David Geffen Hall: Mazzoli’s “River Rouge Transfiguration”/ Elgar’s “Cello concerto in E minor, Op. 85” featuring Yo-Yo Ma as the soloist/ and Dvořák’s “Symphony No.8 in G major, Op. 88”. Tuesday February 28th, 2023.
Welcome back friends!
Welcome this week, to the sublime, vibrant, and often filled with wonderfully intimate, yet rich and inspiring, emotional world of classical music, performed by the New York Philharmonic.
Welcome this week, to a truly dazzling, exciting, spectacular, beautiful, international evening, featuring both contemporary (21st century), and late 19th century/early 20th century classical composers, from America, England, and the Czech Republic.
A star studded evening, featuring for the second, intimate piece, by English composer Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934), one of the most the highly acclaimed cellist and world wide performers of the last few decades: the great, incredibly expressive, ebullient, and fun to watch play his gorgeous cello, Chinese born, Yo-Yo Ma (b. 1955), performing Elgar’s illustrious, (1919) “Cello concerto in E minor, Op. 85”.
So illustrious is Yo-Yo Ma, that he gave the title to this particular New York Philharmonic performance: “An evening with Yo-Yo Ma”.
A piece, Elgar wrote at the end of World War I, while mourning the devastation that had overtaken Europe. A piece, that conductor Sir Adrian Boult thought “struck a new kind of music, with a more economical line, terser in every way from the effusions of his earlier years”.
And what a treat to see Yo-Yo Ma in person, and so close. He never disappoints, and is always an incredible, charismatic, and marvelous performer.
Also, and importantly, what wonderful conducting, for the entire program, with great verve and dynamism, from Serbian born, Daniela Candillari, currently principal conductor at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and principal opera conductor at Music Academy in Santa Barbara, CA, among other responsibilities.
Wow! And yay!
1) First, let me showcase the very first piece performed last Tuesday evening. A contemporary, 2013 short piece (10 minutes long), entitled “River Rouge Transfiguration” by Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980), an eclectic, genre-blending, American female composer, who loves to pull the emotional directness and connection of a pop song, as well as the complexity, the colors, and the possibilities, found in modern classical music, while composing her works.
A piece, “River Rouge Transfiguration”, both inspired by great literature (Louis Ferdinand Céline’ s bleak, 1932, first novel, “Journey to the end of the night” (in French: “Voyage au bout de la nuit”), about a man’s tortured and hopeless search for meaning, written in a disjointed style, evoking the cadence of speech, and a piece, “River Rouge Transfiguration”, also inspired by the sounds and atmosphere of the industrial city of Detroit, and especially by its grit and noise.
And the result, ladies and gentlemen, is surprisingly harmonious as the transformation of grit into something massive, resonant and unexpected, is done while achieving great beauty, intensity and harmony.
Wow! and yay!
Enjoy a short excerpt of Mazzoli’s “work”River Rouge Transfiguration” below:
So intense and yet harmonious, and minimalist as well.
2) Second, let’s now turn back to English born Elgar, and his illustrious Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85, featuring as the solist, Yo-Yo Ma, which was of course, the main reason the evening was totally sold out. A contemplative, sorrowful, automnal, and yet at times, passionate 1919 masterpiece, which was unusually, poorly received as it premiered, and really only achieved worldwide recognition, in the 1960’s, when a recording by Jacqueline Dupré, became a best seller.
Let’s admire now, the first movement performed a few years ago in 1997, also by Yo-Yo Ma.
So beautiful and meditative.
And as an “encore”, Yo-Yo Ma then, treated us to a famous piece by Pablo Casals, “Song of the birds”, a piece, Casals, like Yo-Yo Ma, (would) play to promote freedom and peace.
Here it is:
So beautiful and moving.
3)Third and finally, the evening then ended, with the beautiful late 19th century (from 1889) Symphony No.8 in G major, Op. 88 by Czech born, Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904), a piece Dvořák wrote and dedicated “for my installation as a member of the Czech Academy of the Emperor Franz Joseph for Sciences, Literature and Arts”, which inducted him, 2 months after the premiere.
An upbeat, idyllic symphony (Dvořák’ Symphony No.8 in G major, Op. 88), with a solo flute appearing at times, with what sounds like a crisp, joyful birdsong, on a spring day in Prague, yet also at times, embedded with mournful tones, and decidedly, Bohemian in style.
Perhaps less famous than his following “From the New world” symphony No. 9. Op. 95, which Dvořák wrote a few years later, in 1893, while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America, from 1892 to 1895, and which I actually also had the pleasure to listen to, at the David Geffen Hall, a few days ago.
So in conclusion, what an extremely beautiful, often joyful, and engaging symphony, this symphony No.8 in G major, Op. 88, proves to be.
Let’s finally listen now, to a short excerpt of its (Dvořák’ Symphony No.8 in G major, Op. 88) energetic ending (after the first minute), also conducted at a different performance, with great enthusiasm:
So, to sum up my feelings, about my NY Philharmonic “An evening with Yo-Yo Ma” program, admired last Tuesday, in great company: what beautiful, wonderfully performed, and entertaining 21st, 20th and late 19th century classical music, from an array of intense and hugely talented composers, from the old and the new world.
Not to be missed!
Until next time friends.
Eternal butterflies 😊