Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hartford Symphony Orchestra

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto as the second concert of its 2014-2015 Masterworks Series on Nov.  13-16 in Belding Theater at The Bushnell in Hartford.  

The piano concerto will feature guest artist Martina Filjak. The program, conducted by HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan,  also will include Brahms’ Tragic Overture and R. Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration

“In this concert, we will invite our audience to discover powerful themes of human existence,” says Kuan.  “The bravura notes of Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto express why it is known as the “Emperor.”  Brahms’ heart-wrenching Tragic Overture has a turbulent, tormented character to it, while Strauss’ transcendent Death and Transfiguration explores earthly struggle resulting in heavenly bliss,” she explained.

Johannes Brahms’ Tragic Overture is somber and darkly heroic. Though Brahms wrote the two orchestral overtures Academic Festival andTragic in tandem during the year 1880, the works have more of a complementary balance than a continuity. “Having composed this jolly Academic Festival Overture, I could not refuse my melancholy nature the satisfaction of composing an overture for a tragedy,” Brahms wrote to his biographer Max Kalbeck, “One overture laughs, the other weeps.”

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” is the largest in scale of all the composer’s concertos.  The year 1809 had been a difficult one for Vienna and for Beethoven. Napoleon invaded the city with enough firepower to send the residents scurrying and Beethoven into the basement of his brother’s house. He wrote to his publisher Breitkopf und Härtel, “The whole course of events has affected me body and soul.  What a disturbing, wild life around me; nothing but drums, cannons, men, misery of all sorts.” He additionally bellowed his frustration at a French officer he chanced to meet: “If I were a general and knew as much about strategy as I do about counterpoint, I’d give you fellows something to think about.”  The “Emperor” Concerto was written with fully textured chords and wide dynamic range.  The piano technique is remarkable, considering that the modern, steel-frame concert grand was not perfected until 1825.  In this work, written sixteen years earlier, Beethoven envisioned the possibilities that this later, improved instrument would offer.

Guest pianist Martina Filjak is praised for her poetic passion and technical mastery at the keyboard, as well as for her charismatic personality and magnetic stage presence.  She came to international attention by winning the Gold Medal, the First Prize and the Beethoven Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition in 2009, which brought her numerous engagements in United States and internationally. Prior to that, she won First Prize awards at the Maria Canals Piano Competition (Barcelona, Spain) and the Viotti Piano Competition (Vercelli, Italy).

Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, November 13-16, 2014
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm│Friday & Saturday 8pm│Sunday 3pm
A pre-concert talk will take place one hour prior to each performance.
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Martina Filjak piano
Brahms Tragic Overture, Op. 81
R. Strauss Death and Transfiguration, TrV 158, Op. 24
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat Major, Op. 73, “Emperor”

Ticket Information: Tickets $35.50-$67.50. Student tickets are $10. On Saturday, October 18, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. 860-987-5900;

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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