March 3, 2008 — The Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra presents its next concert, "Themes and Legends,” with works by Arensky, Martin and Tchaikovsky. This will be the fourth concert in the 2007-08 series, and will be conducted by Music Director Kate Tamarkin. The concerts, in Old Cabell Hall, will be on Saturday, March 15 at 8 p.m and Sunday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m.
Anton Arensky originally wrote the Variations as the slow movement of his String Quartet No. 2 in A minor. When Tchaikovsky died in 1893, Arensky composed the quartet as an homage in 1894. He borrowed the theme from one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular short pieces, a song called “Legend” that had first been published in 1884 in a collection of 16
children’s songs. Tchaikovsky’s melody has the melancholy cast typical of Russian folk music. Its simple structure is well-suited to the children’s songs from which it came. Arensky’s treatment is appropriately uncluttered and skillful, preserving the emotional naîveté at the same time he puts the strings through virtuosic paces.
Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments is surprisingly melodic for a composer who embraced dodecaphony. Martin wrote to a friend in the mid-1960s, "I have always sought after the sense of tonality and the functional relation of the notes among themselves; however, the general effect of my music has always been strongly
chromatic.” In this concerto, "chromatic" refers to the bright tone colors of all the different instrumental timbres as well as to the melodic and harmonic vocabulary.
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony has earned its enormous popularity because of an emotional immediacy in the music that reaches the listener on a very personal level. From its opening measures, where the clarinet declaims a lugubrious Russian march tune, this symphony grips and retains emotional involvement. Nowhere is Tchaikovsky less subtle, and nowhere is he more effective. The lovely horn melody that dominates the
famous slow movement is one of the triumphs of the symphonic literature: memorable and eminently singable.
Free pre-concert lectures, led by U.Va, music professor Richard Will, will be held in Minor Hall starting 45 minutes before each concert. In addition, Tamarkin will continue her popular “Noon Notes” lecture series. “Noon Notes” is held each Friday before concert weekends, at noon, now at the Northside branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.
Single concert tickets range from $11 to $28 and can be purchased at the Cabell Hall Box Office at (434) 924-3984, weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. For information, visit www.cvillesymphony.org.