This Week: Soviet Pride, A Comic Lover, and Undiscovered Spanish Composers


The Performer: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jaap van Zweden with guest violinist Simone Lamsma

The Venue: Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201

The Composition: Schostakovich: Symphony No. 7, Leningrad; Britten: Violin Concerto No. 1

The Liner Notes: Schostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 was not performed frequently in the decades after its composition by Western orchestras, in a large part because it was seen as Soviet propaganda. Composed as the Nazi’s invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, it is one of the longest pieces in the repertoire, clocking in at around one hour and fifteen minutes. On the selection of the work, Jaap van Zweden remarks that it is not so much a “war work” as a piece about the threat of war, one that captures the anxiety of a city awaiting battle.

Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma, a discovery of Jaap van Zweden, made her DSO debut with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto last year, and she returns to perform Britten’s Violin Concerto, Op. 15. In the performance I saw last year, the violinist proved her self a physical, technically-proficient player with a knack for hard-edge interpretations of her material.

The Sneak Peek:

Leonard Bernstein conducts Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7

Simone Lamsma performs Eugene Ysaye’s Solo Sonata, Op. 27. No. 4


The Performer: The Dallas Opera presents Don Pasquale, featuring Donato DiStefano, Andriana Kucerova, and Norman Shankle.

The Venue: Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201

The Composition: Don Pasquale, a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti first performed in 1843.

The Liner Notes: It is surprising to hear that Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, the composer’s third to last opera, debuted a year after Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco and the same year as Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Donizetti is often thought of as exemplifying a generation of composers immediately preceding these operatic giants. Don Pasquale straddles a middle ground between two musical movements – it is a swan song to the Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte, and yet its sentiments and its musical form bear much in common with the deep romantic leanings of these later contemporaries.

In the opera, Ernesto is in love with Norina, a poor widow, though Ernesto’s uncle, Don Pasquale, wants him to marry a respectable woman of class, since Ernesto is Pasquale’s only heir. Dr. Malatesta, Don Pasquale physician, devises a plot whereby he suggests that Ernesto marries his sister, Sofronia. Only Norina disguises herself as Sofronia and proceeds to torture Pasquale with her temper and extravagant spending. Pasquale is almost driven mad by the girl, and when she finally reveals herself to be the simple Norina and Pasquale discovers the hellish marriage was a shame, he happily agrees to the union between Ernesto and Norina.

Teatro alla Scala and Wiener Saatsoper vet Stefano Ranzani steps in to conduct the Dallas Opera Orchestra. Soprano Adriana Kucerova, coming off recent success touring Fidelio with the Salzburg Festival and performing Mahler at the BBC Proms, will also be making her Dallas Opera (and American) debut in the role of Norina.

The Sneak Peek:

Juan Diego Florez sings the role of Ernesto in a production of Don Paquale by the Zurich Opera

Adriana Kucerova sings Morgana’s aria from the Handel’s Alcina

Sunday Feb 21

The Performer: Orchestra of New Spain

The Venue: Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd., Dallas, TX 75219

The Composition: Francisco Courceille’s The Italian Vespers and Jose de Nebra’s 1750 Miserere

The Liner Notes: The Orchestra of New Spain’s annual auction / fundraising dinner always includes a piece by Francisco Courceille, the 18th Century Italian composer of the Spanish court. Courceille’s lively, expressive Baroque pieces are everything the Orchestra of New Spain is about, rediscovering overlooked works of the Spanish catalogue. Sunday’s performance will include a premiere of Courceille’s The Italian Vespers, as well as a premier of a second liturgical work by Spanish Baroque composer Jose de Nebra. And while you’re there, feel free to bid on a Trip down the River Seine.

Sneak Peek:

José de Nebra: Viento es la Dicha de Amor

The Performer: The Texas Voices, featuring guest artists Robert Hardin, Guitar; and Aaron Dyer, Piano.

The Venue: Resurrection Lutheran Church, 1919 Independence Pkwy., Plano 75075

The Composition: The Texas Voices’ program “Latin Love: Poetry and Song from Latin America will include selections from Salvadoran composer Carlos Colón’s How Do I Love Thee, Morten Lauridsen’s Soneto de la Noche, and Astor Piazzolla’s Primavera Porteña.

The Liner Notes: The program of vocal works poses an interesting juxtaposition of three twentieth century composers of different nationalities: El Salvadorian Carlos Colón, American Morten Lauridsen, and Argentine Astor Piazzolla. Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, who is best known as the father of the Tango Nueva, a form of the traditional Argentine dance style which incorporates elements of jazz and classical music, bodes as a nice match to the American residents, Colón and Lauridsen, who are steeped in choral and liturgical music.

Sneak Peek:

The Fugata Quintet performs Astor Piazzolla’s Primavera Porteña.

Photo (left to right):Nathan Gunn as Doctor Malatesta, Adriana Kucerova as Norina, John Sauvey as the Notary, Donato DiStefano as Don Pasquale and Norman Shankle as Ernesto. (Photo: Karen Almond, The Dallas Opera)


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