Pacific Symphony Presents Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, 10/24 - 10/26
Pacific Symphony's 35th anniversary season continues with the sizzling sounds of 20th-century Spain igniting in the hands of Music Director Carl St.Clair as he leads the orchestra into the exotic world of flamenco, guitar and Spanish poetry. The first Music Unwound concert of the season, the performance spotlights the well-known guitar concerto, Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," performed by renowned Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang. Hailed for her "feisty virtuosity, impeccable technique and sensitive musicianship... Yang's guitar sings as if she had grown up in the shaded courtyards of Andalusia" (The New York Times). Then, in honor of William Bolcom's 75th birthday, the Symphony performs the Pulitzer-Prize winning composer's "Canciones de Lorca," a song-cycle based on the language of Spain's revered poet, Frederico García Lorca, which was composed in collaboration with tenor Plácido Domingo. The evocation of Lorca's poetry is sung by multiple prize-winning tenor René Barbera and the music is being recorded for future release.
Described by Variety as "fascinating" and "free-spirited," the work was commissioned for and premiered at the opening of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006, and is dedicated to Pacific Symphony, Maestro St.Clair and Domingo.
The program also includes a vivid Spanish ghost story, as the Symphony plays the five final selections of Manuel de Falla's "El Amor Brujo" (Love, the Magician). De Falla's suite was originally written for a famous flamenco gypsy dancer, Pastora Imperio, and tells the story of a woman, Candelas, who is haunted by the spirit of her past lover. The songs, written in the Andalusian Spanish dialect, are sung by mezzo-soprano Ola Rafa?o. To set the mood for the concert, classical guitarist Joseph Yashar performs Spanish music in the concert lobby, and guests are invited to create their own poetry using phrases written by Lorca. Taking place Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 24-26, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the concert includes a preview talk with Alan Chapman at 7 p.m. and a post-concert talkback with St.Clair, Bolcom and the Symphony's artistic advisor, Joseph Horowitz. Tickets are $25-$109; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.
"For this Music Unwound program, we wanted to bring to light the fascinating world of Spanish flamenco, which influenced the works of composers Rodrigo and de Falla, as well as Spain's most famous poet, Lorca," says St.Clair. "This powerful poetry provides an opportunity for us to delve into his world of words through our world of music. The way Bill Bolcom paints the sonic picture is just marvelous and points to his genius of combining the two art forms."
The concert opens with Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," a musical portrait of the gardens at the Palace of Aranjuez, 26 miles south of Madrid. He described the concerto as capturing "the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains" at the Palace. The work is enriched with nuances of flamenco's cante jondo, or "deep song," and the finale evokes a courtly dance. The middle movement has become familiar to many because of its many adaptations-one of the most famous being the version by Miles Davis in his album, "Sketches of Spain." It's remarkable to note that the composer was blind by the age of 3 (he composed in braille), and although he is praised for giving the guitar a place of dignity in the concerto repertoire, he himself was a pianist and never mastered the guitar.