“The Passion of Rachmaninoff” Concert Preview No. 2

This “Concert Preview” will provide background information on the pieces the BSO will perform next. Each Concert Preview is written by the BSO’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. Look for the next Concert Preview on February 10.

Concerto for Violin in A Major, “The Turkish” by Wolfgang Amade Mozart

Mozart 1777Mozart - 1777Mozart - 1777Mozart ColorThe year 1775 was a productive one for the 19 year-old Joannes Chrisostumus Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, at least as far as writing violin concerti is concerned. He had written his first a few years earlier and for reasons that are still unclear wrote the flurry of four that year. After having written his first in Bb major he settled on D major twice, G major, and finally A major for this fifth and final concerto.

While this concerto is nicknamed “The Turkish” it could have gone by several names as there are many structural surprises within. First, it is unique in its first movement form. After the orchestra bursts forth with the Allegro Aperto that begins the first movement, the listener may be a bit stunned to hear the orchestra come to a halt and have the solo violin begin its entrance with a ballad-like Adagio! This daydream is over shortly and the listener is, once again, surprised to hear a theme from the solo violin that has yet to be heard unlike most concerti of the classical period which warm up your ears by having the orchestra play the theme before the soloist enters. In fact, what you hear is the accompaniment without the solo voice on top. In a way, it is reminiscent of Mozart’s overture to his opera The Marriage of Figaro which uses not a single theme from the actual opera. Imagine the audacious brilliance of having so much music in your head that you can afford to just throw themes away without the worry that you may be using up your reserve!

The other surprise is that this concerto could have just as easily been named “Symphony for Violin.” Typically, classical concerti are three movements long in a fast-slow-fast format. This one follows suit but with a twist. After the second movement Adagio we are treated to a lovely Tempo di Menuetto just as one would expect from a typical classical… symphony! As the violin dances in 3/4 time throwing in a flirtatious cadenza here and there we are, as we were in the first movement, interrupted by an unexpected Allegro this time. This Allegro is given the “Turkish” treatment. That is to say that the Austrian fascination with the exotic qualities of the Ottoman Empire reveals itself in a fast pulse and the request from Mozart to have the cellos and basses turn their bows over and strike the strings with the wood part as well as the horse hair. This percussive sound and the brusque trills from our soloist give a foot-stomping dance quality to the music. This foray into the exotic is temporary as the orchestra returns to our elegant Minuet for an ending that closes the door on our concerto as one would the door to a child’s room after having read an exciting story before being tucked into bed.

Concertmaster Rebecca CorrucciniThe Bloomington Symphony’s own concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini (pictured, left), will be the featured soloist on this concerto. Please join us for this concert, “The Passion of Rachmaninoff,” on Sunday, February 16 at 3 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. To purchase tickets in advance, please visit our online box office here. Tickets are always available at the door.

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