The big draw to this program was Andre Watts play the Rachmaninoff Piano Concert No 2 in C minor. Watts did not disappoint the audience which rewarded him with quite a rousing standing ovation. The rest of the program for the evening, conducted by Slovakian conductor Juraj Valcuha, consisted on the Overture to Oberon by Weber and two collections of instrumental music from operas by Richard Strauss – Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten and Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.
I attended the pre-concert talk, presented by Victoria Bond, and learned a few interesting facts about the concert selections and their composers:
- Rachmaninoff’s famous piano concerto was considered rather conservative for the time (1900) considering Stravinsky, Ives and the like were pushing the limits of contemporary classical music.
- Rachmaninoff lived in Beverly Hills, but never got involved in film music, even though many of his lush melodies have been arranged for film.
- Oberon has a dull plot and is hardly ever performed. The Overture is probably the most often performed piece from the opera.
- Richard Strauss was quite the extrovert. I find his music to reflect this sort of personality. It always seems “winded” to me, droning on and on without saying much. I found the Symphonic Fantasy to be as dreary as the story it supports. The waltzes of Der Rosenkavalier were a rousing and pleasant end to the evening.
Link to the New York Times Review: The Familiar Shares the Stage with a Debut