Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Conductor: Josep Caballé Domenech
Date: January 21, 2017
Much like many of the other compositions commissioned to celebrate the anniversary of the writing of “America the Beautiful,” this piece did an excellent job of capturing the size and majesty of the mountain known as Pike’s Peak. It starts at sunrise, as the sun slowly illuminates the mountain in its purple pre-dawn light. As the alpenglow builds, the enormity of the mountain comes into view. The sunrise then rests on a lone hiker at the base of this prominent peak. We then follow this hiker as he climbs along the trail through the woods, occasionally taking a short break to look back on how far he’s come. Continuing his climb, he arrives at the summit and is rewarded with the brilliance of the view afforded to his effort.
Symphony No. 8
Ludwig van Beethoven
It’s interesting to me that this piece was chosen as one of the first to start off this year of philharmonic performances. In comparison to the 5th and 7th symphonies before it, the 8th doesn’t have the same impact and power that they had. Fortunately, it also wasn’t as flighty and light as the 6th. In terms of the background behind it, the 8th could have been a much more depressing piece, considering Beethoven’s failing hearing at the time. Clearly, you can hear his mournful attitude in the 7th, but by the 8th he used the music in his head to escape from the pain of his reality. He chose to compose music to bring him into his “happy place.” While a good piece by itself, the 8th is merely a prelude to the conclusive power of the 9th, a piece that stands in defiance of Beethoven’s hearing being unmercifully ripped away from him.
Piano Concerto No. 1
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Much like Beethoven’s 8th symphony that was played before it, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was instantly recognizable from its first movement. It too had the fun and light feeling to it, much in contrast to the cold and wintry days of January outside. An impressive piece for the piano, even more so in the less-recognizable second and third movements. Both pieces seemed to have a levity and humor to them that really made them a joy to listen to together. If you ever get a chance, put these two pieces on back-to-back and listen to what I’m talking about. It might just turn your dark and cold January into something a lot more enjoyable.