I’m having an absolute blast playing with the Grant Park Symphony this week. Our concert tonight features two symphonies I’ve never heard before and one concerto I have long loved, and all were composed within 20 years of each other!
The Roy Harris Third Symphony is my least favorite of the three – composed in 1939, it feels to me like Copland but without the groove. Based on the comments on the You Tube video below, my opinion is not everyone’s! It’s a little too lush for my personal taste, but I am still excited to be playing an American symphony that is new to me, and an interesting and legitimate work.
Walter Piston’s Second Symphony, on the other hand, is EXACTLY what I like, and I can’t believe I didn’t know it before. It premiered in 1944, and the sounds and tonality remind me of Britten and Prokofiev who both were writing around that time. The rhythms are tricky and interesting – it took me a fair amount of singing and tapping to wrap my head around them in my practice room – and they have the GROOVE that I was missing in the Harris work. The piece has the kind of darker, edgy expressionism that I love, with a strict formal structure containing it, and although I am not a listener to classical music in general, I feel like this piece might actually linger on my playlist going forward.
After the intermission, we are playing the Shostakovich Cello Concerto (from 1959) and this is a piece I’ve always loved. Again, edgy, angular, angsty sounds and tonalities, combined with intense, exciting rhythms and THE CELLO. Everything about this is great.
Concert at 6:30 tonight. Details HERE.