Citizen Without a CountryColorado Springs Philharmonic
Conductor: Josep Caballé Domenech
Date: October 23, 2016

Symphonic Overture “America, The Beautiful”
Wang Jie

Another of the commissioned pieces for the 90th season of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, this Symphonic Overture was written as a fugue to evoke the silhouetted profile of “America’s mountain” – Pike’s Peak. As a mountain climber myself, I could hear the rising melodies that brought the listener to the top of this iconic mountain, but I had a hard time determining if the piece ended at the apex of Pike’s Peak (which it sounded like it did), or if it completed the whole profile of the silhouette. Nevertheless, it was a fitting tribute to the song it was honoring and another great first performance.

Concerto in B minor for Cello and Orchestra
Antonín Dvořák

I’m a fan of Dvorak. One of my most favorite pieces of all time (if not the most favorite overall) is by him, so I was definitely looking forward to this piece. Seeing as the Cello Concerto was written around the same time as his 9th Symphony (the aforementioned favorite piece of mine), there were certainly a number of common themes present in the Concerto. As the Cello leads the rest of the orchestra in a bit of a “repeat after me” for the first and second movements, we eventually get to the penultimate movement, and the most famous part of this piece: Finale: Allegro moderato – Andante – Allegro vivo. While the previous two segments of this piece weren’t much to write home about, the finale is full of its famous life and vigor. This was the part I immediately recognized, and it was a joy to hear it performed live. Now I just have to wait until the spring when the Philharmonic plays Dvorak’s 9th Symphony.

Symphony No. 2 in D major
Johannes Brahms

If I were to order these two pieces, I probably would have put the Cello Concerto after Brahms’ second symphony, mainly because I’d want the audience to stay awake. While I was readily familiar with the last movement of the Dvorak piece, Brahms’ second symphony was a piece I haven’t really heard before. What adds to the “falling asleep” thought is the riff that runs through the first movement of the piece. It was very similar to the iconic “lullaby” tune, and thus gave the piece a bit of a sleepy undertone. But maybe that’s what Brahms was going for, seeing as the whole symphony feels like the musical equivalent of a lazy summer day. From a nap in the morning sun to a casual stroll through the forest to a horseback ride along a river, the one bit of excitement of this symphony seemed to come in a sudden storm late in the afternoon (at least that’s how I interpreted the fourth movement, “Allegro con spirito”). It has been said that it took Brahms fourteen years to write his first symphony and mere months to write his second, but part of me thinks he should have spent a little more time on it.

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