Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Conductor: Marcelo Lehninger
Date: November 12, 2016
White Gleam of Our Bright Star
OK, I’ll admit it: I really didn’t “get” this piece. Perhaps I’m not an astute listener for this type of musical arrangement, but it almost sounded to me like the band was still warming up during this tribute to “America the Beautiful.” Maybe I’m biased. The first commissioned piece of the 90th season was fantastic, complex, and riveting while this one felt a little . . . wanting? Of course, again, I don’t really consider myself to be of the most discerning of musical tastes, especially when it comes to the Philharmonic. My take is usually “older is better,” so time will tell whether this piece stands up against the others.
Violin Concerto No. 5
Up until this Masterworks performance, I had never heard of Henri Vieuxtemps. Consequently, I wasn’t sure what to expect in his fifth Violin Concerto. With the stage filled with the string section and not many other instruments, Vieuxtemps certainly showed that he knew how to use every single one of those strings to provide a rich and interesting piece. Bravo to the violinist who has to play this piece, sometimes being the only instrument playing, as it certainly was an impressive sight to watch and an incredible sound to hear. I don’t know if I’m sold on Vieuxtemps quite yet, but I certainly liked what I heard.
Symphony No. 9, “The Great”
Had I not attended the lecture before this performance, I probably wouldn’t have been able to pick out a few nods to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in this piece. Even with a few musical references to this other, famous piece, Schubert’s “The Great” (named by the people who listened to it, not the composer himself) is full of energy and life. I can almost imagine the story that comes out of this symphony. In the first movement, an army has returned from a war, victorious against the invading forces of the enemy. In the second movement, we follow a young girl, flighty and dancing, as she flits through the town, expressing her joy of her soldier fiancé’s return to the various shopkeepers. In the third movement, the girl’s grandfather, a portly and boisterous nationalist with a hearty laugh sings the praises of his homeland and their victory over their foes. Finally, in the last movement, the soldier fiancé returns home and has a discussion with the grandfather about the future he can provide the man’s granddaughter; with his approval now in hand, the granddaughter rushes to the church to grab the minister and start the wedding ceremony, which ends the piece.