From Boisterous to Pastoral :: Concert Preview 3 of 3

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the final edition of the “Musings” for the “From Boisterous to Pastoral” concert that will be performed on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

by Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms, composer

Johannes Brahms, composer

I will ask the readers of this particular set of notes about the Second Symphony of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) to indulge the author in a bit of sentimental folly. The hope of yours truly is that the recollection that has made this work such a favorite of mine would give Brahms cause to smile.

As a fledgling trumpeter in New York City, I had the opportunity—nay blessing—to play the first movement of this work by the man who shook the dust of his native Hamburg, Germany, from his feet, to be known more as a Viennese composer and artist—something for which the citizens of his birth city have still not forgiven. I was instantly enraptured by the sounds of this opus 73 of his. There was much for me to absorb, to be sure, but I was mesmerized by a theme that he had written earlier (to honor the birth of a child) that found it’s way into this Pastoral D Major symphony. So much so, in fact, that in my reverie I missed my next entrance! You, as the listener, will have no such problem since you are encouraged to dream away in the comfort of your seat.

There’s plenty from musicological and historical vantage points to appreciate here, from the summer getaways in the south of Austria to the impeccable structures of each movement that serve as the fabric he uses to weave his melodic/harmonic portraits. However, the magic in this music for the first-time listener is set firmly in the way it evolves so naturally. That is not to imply at all that the music is predictable. Far from it! Rather, it changes like a color wheel that is filled with warmth and stark hues.

The rolling cellos and basses introduce a duet by two horns that will be heard throughout the first movement as the first violins sit patiently, waiting to play what seems like nothing more than an etude of widening intervals. The sweetness of that simplicity is answered by a chorus of monk-like low brass that introduces a beautiful arching theme, once again, in the hands of the violins. The once-rolling theme is animated shortly thereafter and it is at that point that the listener realizes that the first movement will be full of many more climaxes and also charming surprises, particularly at the end coda.

The thoughtfulness of the second movement is a display of the beauty of the low and tenor instruments of the orchestra. There will be ample opportunity for the soprano members of the orchestra to sing in solo settings and also en masse. Brahms shows his handy ability to shift his rhythmic flow from straight 4/4 time to a 12/8 “swing” that brings to mind the Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach.

What’s a Brahms symphony without an opportunity to be a bit playful? The third movement gives him a chance to, once again, play with pulses and time signatures to give the illusion that he has written everything in the movement in the same time signature. In fact, he goes from 3/4 to 2/4 to 3/4 to 3/8 to 9/8 and finally back to 3/4 in the sliest manner! He has taken a walk and every time he turns his head he sees a different scene, barely ever stopping to stand still.

If D Major was a key that Bach used to celebrate in a joyful manner, well, that was good enough for Brahms. The quiet murmuring that begins the finale gives way to unrepentant joy in Brahms’ hands. There are moments of introspection and development that are ravishingly atmospheric to give us a moment to breathe. Make that recovery quick, though, for Brahms is at his joyful best as the coda challenges the orchestra to race to the finish line as the low brass remind us what key we are in!

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “From Boisterous to Pastoral” featuring Catherine Carson, winner of the Mary West Solo Competition as soloist for Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3. The concert takes place on Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 952-948-6506.


Announcing the 2018-19 Concert Season

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to announce the 2018-19 concert season, it’s sixth under Music Director and Conductor Manny  Laureano.

October 7, 2018 :: Musical Milestones || BUY TICKETS

November 18, 2018 :: Romantically Yours || BUY TICKETS

February 24, 2019 :: From Boisterous to Pastoral || BUY FLEX TICKETS

May 5, 2019 :: Music in 3D: #6 || BUY FLEX TICKETS

We are excited to perform works ranging from Bach to Bernstein. We hope you will join us for any or all of the season concerts. To learn more, click on the title of the concert and purchase tickets with the link to the right.

You can also click on the images below to download our 2018-19 Season Brochure.


“Let Us Begin” Concert Preview No. 3

This post is the final entry in the Concert Preview series for the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s October 6 concert, entitled “Let Us Begin.” We hope you enjoyed Manny’s Musings and will check back later for previews of pieces from upcoming concerts.

brahmsMost composers who are regarded as “symphonic’ composers begin their foray into symphonic form relatively early in their careers. Shostakovich and Mendelssohn wrote their first symphonies with Opus numbers of 10 and 11, respectively. There are certainly many other examples that are similar. So, for many it is a startling revelation that one of the greatest symphonists has as the opus number for his first symphony as Opus# 68!

By the time Johannes Brahms, originally of Hamburg, Germany had completed and premiered his Symphony in C minor, he had already premiered numerous chamber works, choral music, orchestral serenades, and piano sonatas. Furthermore, his compelling Ein Deutches Requiem and the G minor piano quartet were familiar to his followers. He was, by the time of the symphony’s premiere in Baden on November 4, 1876, in the middle of his extensive output of compositions.

Much is made of Brahms’ reluctance to write the C minor symphony. Even his publisher, Fritz Shimrock, would come to badger Brahms regarding his lack of a symphony for him to publish. In fact, it took Brahms approximately 14 years from the first time pen met paper to the Karlsruhe premiere conducted by Otto Dessof. Even after that premiere came several revisions that became part of final printed history in 1877, a year later.

To say that Brahms’ respect for the works of Beethoven was profound is an accurate statement. Throughout the first movement and the finale, Brahms’ paean to Beethoven is clear and unhidden. This is not to imply that there is a sense of copying Beethoven in any sense. However, the power of the the incessant three short notes followed by a longer note that are developed furiously in the first movement have Beethoven’s fingerprints all over them. As one listens, the four notes hammered away by trumpets and timpani as the strings wail at the climax of the development have clear ingenuity to them. The first movement closes with the clip-clop of an ever-present horseman delivering the message that a new voice has come to symphonic writing.

The eloquence that one heretofore has always associated with the poetic slow movements of Beethoven meets its challenge in the E major slow movement. The direction of the music seems to constantly ascend without ever truly releasing it’s gentle grip of the listener’s ear. From solo oboe to clarinet, from concertmaster to solo horn, the music is a lightly passionate “slow dance”. The pastoral quality of the third movement is a walk through nature that seems to portray what is seen by our perambulating host. Almost like Smetana’s The Moldau we embark on a journey that is best left to the mind’s eye of the listener.

The finale and its brooding beginning give way to conspiratorial footfalls and what can only be described as a thunderclap that clears the air in the manner of Donner at the end of Das Rheingold. The succeeding alphorn theme serves as a bridge to a hymn delivered by the trombones who having been laying in wait for a full three movements until just the right moment. As Beethoven seemed to embrace the world with the hymn known as the “Ode to Joy,” so does Johannes Brahms in his glorious theme that takes us in to one of the most cataclysmic moments in the symphonic repertoire.


2013-14 Season Announced!

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra’s newly appointed Artistic Director and Conductor Manny Laureano has put together his first season of programs for the BSO. The season promises to be a celebration of firsts, as the conductor and musicians begin a new era of making music together.

The BSO begins it’s 51st season on Sunday, October 6 with a concert called “Let Us Begin.” This concert will feature Shostakovich’s first opus, a Scherzo in f# minor, followed by Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto performed by Susan Billmeyer, the Minnesota Orchestra’s keyboard player. Brahms’ First Symphony completes this concert of “firsts.”

The BSO’s fourth annual concert at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, this year on Sunday, November 24, is entitled “Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear the Tale.” This concert includes programmatic pieces including Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, as well as the Polovetsian Dances from the same opera. The concert will end with Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical tale of Scheherazade.

On Sunday, February 16, 2014, the BSO will celebrate “The Passion of Rachmaninoff,” with a concert program of Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major and concluding with Rachmaninoff’s passionate Symphony No. 2. The BSO’s concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini will make her annual solo appearance at this concert.

The BSO will conclude its 2013-14 season with “Music in 3D,” a nod to the imagination that music inspires. “Music in 3D” includes Death and Transfiguration by Strauss, The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius and Respighi’s well-known piece, The Pines of Rome. This concert will also feature a performance by the grand prize winner of MNSOTA’s Mary West Solo Competition.

Season and single concert tickets are now available online through the Bloomington Box Office or by calling 962-563-8575. Tickets are always available for purchase at the door. Single concert tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for seniors. Discounted season tickets are $48 for adults and $40 for seniors. Students with a valid ID are admitted free, thanks to our generous sponsors.

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