Orchestra of St. Luke's to Close 40th Season with Beethoven's Fifth at Carnegie Hall
One of the greatest works in the classical canon, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, will conclude Orchestra of St. Luke's 40th Anniversary season at Carnegie Hall. OSL Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, praised in the Financial Times for his "keen command of stylistic definition as well as expressive logic" following OSL's October concert, returns for what promises to be an exceptionally thrilling performance of this repertoire staple. "Pablo will bring new levels of charisma and energy," anticipates OSL flutist Elizabeth Mann.
Almost from the day of its first performance, Beethoven's Fifth has been regarded as the symphony-the absolute exemplification of what the word means. For many, the exhilarating and powerful course from minor to major represents a journey from darkness to light; it has often been interpreted as a message of Beethoven's triumph over a personal battle, perhaps even his hearing loss. Musically, Beethoven's endlessly imaginative expansion and development of the smallest motives reached a level never seen before.
While Beethoven's Fifth is a declaration of triumph, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 2 is a much darker statement of the need to simply persist. Like most of his later music, it is deeply personal. The concerto is symphonic in character, with the cello participating in extended dialogue with instruments of the orchestra, particularly the percussion section in each of the three movements. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, a frequent OSL guest, is especially well suited to take on a piece requiring such a high degree of interaction with her collaborators. "Alisa Weilerstein is a dynamic soloist, and she's intensely aware of what's happening in the orchestra," explains OSL hornist Stewart Rose.
The solo part is wildly difficult, and Weilerstein will scale a wide spectrum of challenges with grace. "Her technical abilities serve a taste for sweep and intensity; she performs with soulful expression and physical abandon," praises The New York Times. The 32-year-old cellist was the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur "genius" Fellowship, and other career highlights have included Elgar's Cello Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Daniel Barenboim in Oxford, England, and a performance at the White House for the President and Mrs. Obama.
If Beethoven presented the supreme example of carrying a small musical idea as far as he could to achieve cohesion throughout a large-scale work, Stravinsky seemed to take the opposite approach in Symphonies of Wind Instruments. The piece is structured as a series of discreet musical ideas-a technique also explored by Debussy, to whom the work is dedicated. Stravinsky uses every possible means to segment the themes, suddenly changing meter, tempo, texture, and sonorities. Yet, Symphonies of Wind Instruments is not as disjointed as it first appears. A closer listen reveals unexpected connections between eclectic ideas, which are finally grounded in the haunting closing chorale-the only sustained music in the work. "Symphonies of Wind Instruments showcases Stravinsky's style and ideas about music in the best way," says Pablo Heras-Casado. "Stylistically, it's quite spare and condensed, yet so full of emotion. It's one of his most important works."