Chamber concert will highlight Respighi, Korngold, Shreker and Grieg
The Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra will delight the audience at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Thursday, promised Associate Conductor Rei Hotoda.
"If you want to hear the most brilliant orchestration for a smaller-sized orchestra, this is the concert to attend," Hotoda told The Park Record. "It is an incredible amount of music that showcases the affects that orchestration can do. These pieces bring out the collection of different instrumentations that are put together in the most amazing way."
The program will feature Ottorino Respighi’s "Trittico Botticelliano" ("Three Botticelli Pictures"), Edvard Greig’s "Holberg Suite," Franz Schreker’s "Chamber Symphony" and Erich Korngold’s "Much Ado About Nothing Suite."
Hotoda programmed the concert, with the exception of the Schreker work, which was Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer’s idea.
"That was an unknown work for me and isn’t often played," Hotoda explained. "However, it’s an incredible gem of a piece and one that I’m excited about."
The work is unique in the sense that it requires very small instrumentation.
"Only 23 players are needed, but it sounds like a Mahler symphony because it’s so well orchestrated," Hotoda said. "It becomes a brilliant, effusive, gorgeous and almost impressionistic work at times, and contains some German expressionism."
Although Schreker is known more for his operas, "Chamber Symphony" contains some dramatic movements.
"He shifts from one emotion to another," Hotoda said. "This collection of sounds is phenomenal coming from the orchestra and audiences will hear something unique in the piece. It’s really interesting to listen to and it’s quite difficult for the musicians to play."
Kicking off the concert will be the Respighi works that were inspired by the Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.
"Respighi being an amazing orchestrator, pulled this off with these three reflections inspired by the Botticelli paintings," Hotoda said.
The first movement is titled "Spring" and the second is called "Adoration of the Magi."
"I know it’s past Christmas, but audiences will hear the refrain from ‘O Come, O Come Immanuel’ in this segment," Hotoda said.
The third movement depicts the "Birth of Venus," which is based on Botticelli’s iconic 1486 painting.
"[‘Three Botticelli Pieces’] is an amazing set of pieces that will be quite enjoyable for the audience, as well as the players," Hotoda said.
One of the works that will showcase the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra strings is Grieg’s "Holberg Suite."
"This is a strings-only work that is six movements," Hotoda said. "What I find interesting is that Grieg, who is considered a Romantic composer, was commissioned [in 1884] to write this set of pieces to honor the 200th anniversary of Norwegian writer Ludvig Holberg, who lived in the Baroque era.
"So, Grieg went back in time, so to speak, and wrote the music in a baroque style," she said. "It’s really creative and he uses all of these dances from the baroque period, but the music is still lush and gorgeous like Grieg always sounds. It’s a great conversion of old and new and spotlights the strings in a brilliant way."
Wrapping up the evening will be Korngold’s "Much Ado About Nothing Suite," which will be a new experience for Hotoda.
"I have never conducted any of Korngold’s music, but I know that he has some gorgeous pieces such as the ‘Violin Concerto,’ which is amazing," she said. "The thing is, he really is known for his film music. He fled the Nazis in Europe and lived the rest of his life in Los Angeles."
"Much Ado About Nothing" is one of the composers’ earlier pieces and premiered in 1920, when Korngold was 23.
"It’s a great piece of incidental music from Shakespeare’s play and again, it’s, like Grieg, lush and romantic, but like Schreker, you will hear some impressionism in the score," Hotoda said. "We’re doing five movements."
Hotoda pointed out that most of the composers showcased in the program, with the exception of Grieg, hail from the early 20th century. And even then, Grieg was active in the 1880s and died in 1907.
"This is such a great mix of composers that have so much in common, but when you sit down and listen to the whole program, you would be tempted to say they influenced each other," she said. "However, that’s not the case at all."
The influences came from the changes in the classical repertoire that was happening during that time.
"Composers were influenced by the Whole Tone Scale with Debussy, the Impressionists movement of the late 1800s and Expressionism with Schoenberg in the 1920s, not to mention Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring,’" Hotoda said. "This was an exciting time for composing and for compositional output."
The conductor looks forward to performing at St. Mary’s.
"This is a great place for this concert and I have a feeling that all the pieces will radiate in that space," she said. "The selections are incredible gems that I’m thrilled to conduct with the Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra," she said. "I hope a lot of people come and I encourage them to hear this music."
Looking backward as well as forward, Hotoda is happy to be working with the Utah Symphony.
"My first season has been very exciting so far," she said. "I love working with the orchestra and with Thierry Fischer. So, I’m soaking it all up and excited to go to Carnegie Hall in April and for all the repertoire we will be doing in the spring."
The Utah Symphony Chamber Orchestra will perform at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Dr., on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.utahsymphony.org .
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