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Martinez Plays Gershwin

Saturday, June 9, 2018 8:00PM
Mead Theatre - Schuster Center

Martinez Plays Gershwin
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GERSHWIN Piano Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4


The final concert of The Great Ones Masterworks season features two distinct voices in 20th-century American music and harkens back to a strong voice from the 19th century.

We begin with Facsimile: A Choreographic Essay, which Leonard Bernstein composed for a ballet with Jerome Robbins. Bernstein was a beloved and internationally famous conductor—the first American-born conductor of the New York Philharmonic—but he was also known as a successful communicator for music itself. He worked to bring music and the understanding of it to the masses. Robbins worked in the same way with dance. The collaborations between the two men worked to move music forward.

George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F premiered in 1925 at Carnegie Hall with the composer himself as soloist. Gershwin, who died at the height of his fame before he even turned forty, was at heart a songwriter. His soon-to-be standards included “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Embraceable You,” and “Swanee.” His instrumental music, a synthesis of jazz and classical, stands out as a reflection of the American music of the time, the Jazz Age. Works such as "Rhapsody in Blue" and the Piano Concerto in F are strong examples of Gershwin’s power to lift jazz music to the classical level. Although "Rhapsody in Blue" is perhaps one of the most melodically memorable pieces in American music, the Piano Concerto in F is more formally cohesive. This concerto is the most frequently performed of any American-composed concerto.

For the performance of the Piano Concerto in F, the DPO is joined by Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez. Internationally known, Martinez made her orchestral debut at age 7. Later, she emigrated to the United States to attend The Juilliard School, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. Her interpretations are compelling and her stage presence elegant. The Martinez repertoire extends from the established and enduring classics to contemporary works.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote his Symphony No. 4 during an emotionally tumultuous time in his life. He was in the process of marrying and then separating from his wife (all in the span of two months). The feelings and drama within his life certainly bled into his work, but with a exciting outcome. Symphony No. 4 is a intensely emotional work, and it is certainly among his most personal. To Tchaikovsky himself, the piece seemed an “emotional diary in music.” He has layered the symphony with fate and destiny as a theme, conveying helplessness but not without hope. Completed in 1878, the symphony has Tchaikovsky finding his true voice as a symphonic composer. The work is also a wonderful example of orchestral voice, with the orchestra as a solitary voice “singing” the work. The composer dedicated this symphony to the widow Madame von Meck, a woman he never met face to face, yet whom he considered a confidante. Von Meck was also his benefactor, giving him the freedom to become the most accomplished Russian composer of the 19th century.

Bernstein once said of Gershwin, “I don’t think there has been such an inspired melodist on this Earth since Tchaikovsky.” Share the evening with these three gentleman musicians, inspired melodies and all.