The final program of the season is action packed indeed! A world-renowned soloist, a cataclysmic orchestral tour-de-force, one of the seminal works of American music, and all capped by Strauss’s most riotous and infectious tone poem.
Ravel, La Valse; Elgar, Cello Concerto; Ives, Three Pieces in New England; Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel.
Benjamin Zander, conductor. Zuill Bailey, cello.
Cellist Zuill Bailey, still a young man, has leapt to the forefront of cellists today. He is a masterful communicator, both on the concert stage and in master classes. He even demonstrated remarkable skill in front of the TV cameras when he played a role on the path-breaking HBO TV series Oz! His performance of Elgar’s beloved Cello Concerto will leap out at the audience in one unbroken arc of expressive intensity.
Ravel’s La Valse is possibly the most overtly dramatic work that the composer wrote, an incremental deconstruction of the Viennese Waltz that by the end, whether by accident or design, turns virtually apocalyptic. Contrasting with the extreme sensuousness of Ravel is the stubborn modernist vision of the Charles Ives. In the Three Places in New England Ives takes as his starting point three famous locations (one an historical landmark on Beacon St. in Boston) and captures the emotions—including political ones—which they induced in him at the turn of the 20th century. Ives’s signature use of layered simultaneous textures, often involving hymns of the day and patriotic songs, is prominent, and contributes to the feeling of an explosive artwork that is also a political statement.
Concluding the concert is Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, perhaps the most infectious and perfectly conceived of all the Strauss tone poems. The madcap adventures of this rogue provide a hilarious conclusion to a concert, and a season, of rich and varied treasures.