By: Beth Beekly
The performance began with a piece by Anna Clyne, currently the Chicago Symphony’s composer in residence, entitled “Night Ferry.” While the title calls to mind a charming evening boat ride on glassy waters, the thunderous opening featuring the low brass and timpani and bass drum rolls invokes images of a slightly stormier sea. The driving, tempestuous nature of the piece, which is broken up with reflective woodwind solos, can be read partly as a reference to Franz Schubert, a composer in whom Clyne has taken great interest and “who suffered severe bouts of depression and mania, often rapidly cycling between the two states and bringing to his music simultaneous aspects of pleasure and pain” (Kahn). The Symphony masterfully captured these shifts in mood with dramatic changes in dynamic intensity and painted a vivid picture of the emotional “voyage…[of] mental and emotional states” that the piece sought to convey (Clyne).
Next, widely acclaimed pianist Jon Nakamatsu took the stage and delighted audiences with a powerful rendition of Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto in D minor. After three curtain calls the theater showed no sign of quieting, so Nakamatsu humbly took his seat at the piano for an encore and captivated us once again with an energetic yet sensitive performance of a deceptively difficult mazurka in C-sharp minor by Chopin.
After intermission, the Symphony finished off the concert with a four-movement piece by the 20th-century composer Paul Hindemith called “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.” As its title suggests, this piece draws on ideas from various pieces by Weber. The first movement, a march-like allegro that hints at a somewhat eastern sound, is based on the fourth of eight piano duets that Weber composed over his lifetime. The second, a rather jazzy-sounding scherzo, quotes from Weber’s incidental music to the play Turandot. The slower, thoughtful andantino third movement, which features charming clarinet, oboe, and flute solos, comes from another piano duet, Op. 10, and finally, the last movement, a more aggressive, triumphant March based on the seventh of the aforementioned piano duets, brought the program to a rousing finish.
Kahn, Joseph and Elizabeth Kahn. Program notes. “Classics: Virtuosity Required.” Spokane Symphony. Sept 21, 2013.