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By Courtesy of Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra
BY SUSAN SCAFFIDI Contributing writer
If you attend no other Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra concert this year, this is the one you should.
Music director John Farrer has programmed a concert with something to please every type of listener: the adventurer, the traditionalist, even the "I-hate-classical-music" type. The concert begins with the Overture to Karl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischutz" ("The Freeshooter"), one of the most important German-language operas. Following the Overture, the BSO will perform the world premiere of a work by composer Jon Appleton, "Couperin Doubles." Soloist Robert Thies will join the orchestra for a performance of the Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major by Mozart, and the concert will conclude with a performance of the Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Beethoven.
Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra with composer Jon Appleton and guest soloist Robert Thies
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave.
Admission: $20 to $45; available through Ticketmaster or at the Rabobank box office
Composer Jon Appleton, best known as a pioneer of electronic music, said his "Couperin Doubles" originated as a set of six pieces for piano, much as French composer Maurice Ravel had done with his "Le Tombeau de Couperin." In both cases, the composers used as inspiration the work of Baroque composer Francois Couperin.
"Ravel's pieces are not based on specific Couperin pieces, but on six styles of Couperin pieces," Appleton said. "I chose six specific pieces as models for the work."
Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major was written in 1785, during the last decade of the composer's life and one of extraordinary artistic achievement, even for him.
"It's an amazing masterpiece," said pianist Thies.
Mozart wrote this concerto and his 20th concerto in the same month -- both works are immensely popular, with the 21st gaining contemporary popularity through its use as part of the soundtrack for the 1967 Swedish film "Elvira Madigan," which has often been used as a nickname for the concerto.
"It's a ridiculous subtitle that has nothing to do with Mozart of course," Thies said.
Theis stated that the concerto is both "very personal and heartfelt," and that he is personally touched by the second movement.
"What astonishes me about the movement is the brevity of it -- 100 measures," he said. "There's not one superfluous bar or note. It's perfect."
A concerto sets a soloist in "competition" with an orchestra. One hallmark of a concerto is a cadenza, a point at the end of a movement at which the music essentially stops and the soloist has the freedom to exercise all of his abilities. Like most composers, Mozart usually wrote down the cadenza for his concertos, but not for this one. Thies said he composed his own.
"I borrow the themes or motives from the movement, develop them, play with them, and create a structure that feels organic and stylistically similar to something Mozart might have created," Thies stated.
The concert will conclude with what must be the most famous work ever composed for orchestra -- Beethoven's shattering Fifth Symphony. The composer worked on this piece from 1804-1808, during which he also composed his third, fourth and sixth symphonies, the first version of his opera "Fidelio," his Violin Concerto, the Mass in C and other famous works. The Fifth Symphony's famous four-note motive (da-da-da-DUM) and its development and adaptation through the four movements of the symphony have inspired all sorts of interpretations (is it "fate knocking at the door" or just a common musical device of the 18th century?). Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is at turns stormy and tranquil, brooding and triumphant, a range of emotions often attributed to Beethoven himself, who by this time in his career had come to some level of acceptance of his increasing deafness.
CSUB professor emeritus Jerome Kleinsasser will lecture on the concert program at 6:30 p.m.