The Peninsula Symphony begins its 71st season this weekend, with guest soloist Joyce Yang, and a program that includes works by Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff and Brahms. Music Director and Conductor Mitchell Sardou Klein says they’re calling it the ‘Season of Hope’, a nod to their part in the tour next year of the restored instruments that belonged to Jews in the Holocaust.
There’s more information about the concerts and the full season at the Peninsula Symphony’s website.
They open with the Festive Overture by Shostakovich, which Klein says didn’t quite have the premiere that was planned. “Shostakovitch wrote it to be a concert opener, and then it didn’t get played…It was for the 30th anniversary of the October Revolution. His relationship with the apparatchiks in Russia was never a happy one, and somehow or another, although this was written in 3 days for a very specific performance, it did not get played at that performance, and only after Stalin died did it get played.” Then it’s on to another Russian composer’s work – “Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang playing the Paganini Rhapsody of Rachmaninoff… Her favorite concerto, she tells me. And certainly one of the most iconic piano pieces in the repertoire, with that stunning and mesmerizing 18th variation.” It’s based on a work for solo violin by Paganini, the Caprice Number 24 (which several other composers have taken as their source for theme and variations) and before it begins, they’re planning to have concertmaster Debra Fong play the theme as he wrote it so the audience can see just how far afield Rachmaninoff takes it. They’ll end with Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. “His concluding symphonic statement. It’s so perfectly constructed, and yet so consummately passionate. It’s the last thing he was going to get to say, and he kind of knew that. It is really his most personal statement because the big movements, the second and the fourth movements, are his own creative architectures. The fourth movement has that passacaglia based on Bach, and people were starting to talk at this point in his life about the 3 B’s. He was established as the great composer of his time, so he goes back to Bach in the underpinnings of the fourth movement, and that is his final symphonic statement. So, Brahms Fourth is a great way to end our first concert.”