From Music Director Daniel Meyer
Opening night, for me, is such a special time. It’s an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the enormously talented musicians of the Philharmonic, get back into the swing of making music in an intense schedule, and rediscover the music we are are charged with bringing to life on the Warner Stage.
Russian music, particularly written by the composers we have chosen this year, is filled with brilliant orchestra color, deeply-felt emotion, and technical virtuosity. I’ve chosen two very different Russian ballet scores to ‘bookend’ our first Symphonic concert. In both cases, the music is so inventive and pictorial, that you hardly need the dancers onstage to comprehend the content and emotion written into the notes. I personally love conducting Stravinsky’s Petrouchka because it offers so much in terms of rhythmic vitality, unexpected twists and turns, and amazing sonic moments, some of which are tender, some brutal, and some teeming with the spirit of Russian folk dance. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, on the other hand, is the height of artifice. Fairy-tale stories cast in the most sumptuous orchestral clothing you can imagine. If Petrouchka were an earthy painting by Breughel, Swan Lake would be a most exquisitely detailed portrait by Velazquez.
And then one of my biggest sources of pride is the depth of talent we have within the ranks of our own orchestra. It is a thrill to invite our Concertmaster, Ken Johnston, to return to the solo spotlight, this time in an unabashedly Romantic and tune-driven concerto by Glazunov. I hope you agree that this particular concerto deserves more respect (and more performances!) I suppose the Tchaikovsky Concerto stands clear as the king of Russian violin concertos in terms of its popularity, but this inventive and attractive concerto by Glazunov will make a beautiful foil to our other Russians on the program, and Ken will most certainly bring his wonderful musical approach to this beautiful music.