The New Mexico Philharmonic plays music of Vivaldi, Barber and Grieg at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW. Tickets range from $24 to $68 and are available at http://www.nmphil.org, at http://www.nhccnm.org, by calling 724-4771, at the NHCC box office or at the door.
By David Steinberg
Famous compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, Samuel Barber and Edvard Grieg are on the New Mexico Philharmonic’s Jan. 11 Sunday Afternoon Classics program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
The Vivaldi is “The Four Seasons,” arguably the composer’s most well-known work and it may be the best known of any classical composition.
“I’ve performed – soloed – a season here and there for different things. But this will be the first time that I’m doing all four seasons at one concert,” said David Felberg, the orchestra’s associate concertmaster and guest-conductor.
“The music is so colorful and picturesque. He wrote poems to go along with each season.”
“Spring” is the first season of the four, and its initial movement has a sonnet with a pastoral setting: “Springtime is upon us. The birds celebrate her return with festive song, and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes. Thunderstorms – those heralds of spring – roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven, then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.”
Felberg said the solo violin in the piece plays the bird sounds and when the thunderstorm approaches, “you hear the whole orchestra go ‘whoosh,'” said Felberg. He happens to be the solo violinist in the piece.
Despite the fact that the music was written in the 18th century, its strong picturesque quality appeals to modern audiences and it can be appreciated even though a listener may not know what the sonnets describe, he said. “In addition, it’s very tuneful and very memorable. That combination gives it an endearing quality.”
With its fast bowing and slow lyrical playing, the solo violinist gets a great workout in many techniques, he said.
Felberg said he never tires of listening to it or of playing it.
“The wonderful thing about a lot of Baroque music is that the composers leave a lot open to personal interpretation,” he said. “So you take your knowledge and gut feelings and inspiration and hopefully it works as a cohesive whole. Like a jazz composition.”
On the same Jan. 11 program is Samuel Barber’s mournful Adagio for Strings, his adaptation for string orchestra. The work that has been used in several film soundtracks including “Platoon.” The composer originally wrote the music for the second movement – marked “adagio” – of his string quartet.
“The challenge is the pacing,” Felberg said. “It starts out slow and soft and three quartets of the way through it comes to a climactic moment. It’s an introspective and melancholy piece.”
The third work on the program is Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite. It’s a joyful set of music based on Baroque dances.
Grieg, Felberg said, took the aesthetic and vibe of old dances and used his own sense of harmony to guide them.