By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
Pacific Symphony’s 2011-12 concert schedule began last weekend with violinist Sarah Chang performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. It continues on Oct. 20-22, when conductor Carl St. Clair leads the orchestra in a performance of Strauss’ popular “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
Thanks to the Stanley Kubrick film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the first five notes of Strauss’ tone poem are universally recognizable. Director Kubrick also chose classical music to convey the magnificence of space, including another Strauss’ piece, the beautiful “Blue Danube” waltz which will open the concert.
Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 is next up, Nov. 17-19. Conducted by St. Clair, it is considered one of Mahler’s greatest works, a sweeping musical exposition of the composer’s innermost conflicts, a profound, lifelong fear of death and a deep yearning for the joys of life.
From Dec. 8-10, Vivaldi’s Four Season, one of the most beloved works of the Baroque repertoire is performed. This lyrical masterpiece paints tantalizing pictures of the changing seasons. Also on the program, Grieg’s Holberg Suite, is a collection of delightfully fresh Baroque-style dances.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, is played Jan. 12-4. It will be preceded by Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring Dejan Lazić on piano.
Coming up Feb. 2-4, will be one of the most enduring violin concertos in the repertoire, Bruch’s masterpiece: Violin Concerto No. 1 to be played by the young violin virtuoso Nicola Benedetti. Also, Debussy’s “Petite Suite,” written for four-hand piano, will be played in its orchestral arrangement. Finishing the program will be Christoph König conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No.4.
The work of Tchaikovsky is again featured, Feb. 23-25, with his dazzling Violin Concerto, a test of skill for any violinist, taken on by Vadim Gluzman this time.On the program as well is Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and the premiere of a work from Michael Daugherty, honoring the memory of Arturo Toscanini.
Korean pianist Joyce Yang offers Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, March 1-3. This is one of the repertoire’s most powerful, most demanding and most popular works. Opening the program will be Rossini’s “Semiramide” overture and “The Miraculous Mandarin, ” by Bartok at his most colorful and dramatic.
The traditional Persian New Year — marking the arrival of spring —has been celebrated since ancient times. This year, Orange County will take part, March 22-24, when Pacific Symphony plays festive Persian music. Then PSO celebrates a world premiere: Richard Danielpour’s “Toward a Season of Peace” which was commissioned by Pacific as part of this year’s American Composers Festival. For this Pacific Chorale will become a part of the orchestra under St. Clair’s direction.
On April 19, 21, 24, Pacific brings opera back to Orange County with Puccini’s “La Bohème,” in a semi-staged production. Carefree Bohemians and star-struck lovers will fill the concert hall with their voices as Puccini’s sad tale unfolds.
Appearing will be singers Maija Kovalevska as Mimi, David Lomeli as Rodolfo, and Georgia Jarman as Musetta. Pacific Chorale and Southern California Children’s Chorus will join St. Clair and the orchestra.
East meets West, May 10-12, with Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen’s “Sattha,” reflecting on the Tsunami that hit his country. The work was selected by Orange County audiences as the winner of the American Composers Competition. Following, young superstar Andrew von Oeyen will perform Mendelssohn’s piano concerto. Schubert 9th Symphony, “The Great.” will be the finale.
Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 9 closes out the season, May 21-June 2. The “Ode to Joy” section has thrilled listeners around the world for nearly two centuries. Frank Tichelli’s “Radiant Voices”is the opener.