“The Passion of Rachmaninoff” Concert Preview No. 4

This final “Concert Preview” will provide background information on the pieces the BSO will perform at our next concert. Each Concert Preview is written by the BSO’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Symphony #2 in E Minor – Op. 27 (part two of two)

Rachmaninoff

In this third movement Adagio Rachmaninoff finally releases us from minor keys and allows the sun to shine a bit with rolling triplets and yawns of satisfaction from the upper strings. This drawing back of the shades leave our ears clear for an extended clarinet solo of exquisite melodic and harmonic balance. What is essentially Rachmaninoff is his seeming reluctance to have the solo end! Two false cadences prevent the ending of the solo until finally, the clarinet relinquishes the return to the tonic of A major to the first violins. Rachmaninoff goes back to the layering of strings used to such great effect in this symphony to prepare us for a searing climax that would later be imitated but never duplicated by myriad composers of film scores. The balance of the movement reprises earlier themes and brings us to one more slightly gentler climax before the fading heartbeats of the bass section close the movement.

Whether it was the impending birth of our composer’s second daughter, Tatiana, we can’t know for sure but what is certain is that the final movement is the joy we have been waiting for. As he has throughout the symphony, Rachmaninoff goes from the serious to the playful to the sensual, wearing his heart on his sleeve without reluctance. The finale is as exuberant as the others are in their own character: nothing is held back. The orchestra is kept busy negotiating handfuls of notes while the percussion accentuate with grammatical precision. But even Rachmaninoff cannot resist the temptation to have a more reference to the lovely slow movement just one more time. After he has indulged himself, he brings back the brisk pace to lead us to one more room-shaking statement from the second movement scherzo before he gives us a hearty pat on the back as he slams the door closed on this one-movement festival in E major.

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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“The Passion of Rachmaninoff” Concert Preview No. 3

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 LaureanoLook for the final Concert Preview on February 13.

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Symphony #2 in E Minor – Op. 27 (part one of two)

RachmaninoffThe saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is one that Sergei Rachmaninoff may have known. If he didn’t, at the very least he lived it when it came to the success of his Symphony #2 in E minor. To say that the premiere of his first symphony was not a triumph is an understatement. It was a disaster. The conductor, fellow composer Alexander Glazunov, was not a fan of the new piece by the young Rachmaninoff and conducted it quite badly and with little care about the results. Rachmaninoff was distraught afterward and sought psychological help even resorting to hypnotism to get through what is described in today’s parlance as a “rough patch”. As Friedrich Nietzche once quipped, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and a scant ten years later, the world was treated to the symphony that would become his most popular after a year (1906-07) devoted to producing that work. It is Rachmaninoff at his most expressive and unashamedly emotional while paying strict attention to structure. The brooding start in the cellos and basses set the stage for the seriousness of the first movement. Blocks of wind chords are the fabric for the upper strings to weave layers of musical embroidery which Rachmaninoff uses to sweep the listener into an initial climax which involves the entire orchestra. It is, in essence, the preview of things to come. In addition to the instruments one is used to hearing, Rachmaninoff deftly uses the dark-hued tones of the bass clarinet and the English horn to create transitions from one section of the orchestra into another.

The second movement is a spirited and colorful scherzo which contrast bright violins with horns bent on the idea of ensuring that we now know we have moved from the first movement’s E minor to A minor. It is in the second, slower theme here that Rachmaninoff is also secure in the idea that he did not set out to join the ranks of Russian composers who wished to write in a nationalistic language. His harmonies here pre-date but are reminiscent of American jazz writing and sets one wondering whether his place in history might have been a bit different had he been born in the United States and grown up hearing the popular music of turn-of-the-century America (he later was a fan of American jazz and one of the major musical figures to attend the premiere of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in 1924). After a brief return to the music of the opening we are treated to the delicious surprise violent fugue under the guise of a scherzo-within-a-scherzo, all of which builds to a head and a final reprise of the movement. With a solemn brass chorale and a quiet flip of the bass clarinet, we are ready for on of the most sensual and beautiful symphonic movements ever penned.

Check our website on February 13 for the final portion of the Concert Preview for the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2. 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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The Passion of Rachmaninoff

Concertmaster Rebecca Corruccini

The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra invites you to an afternoon of great music on Sunday, February 16 at 3 p.m. The concert begins with Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi, followed by Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, performed by our concertmaster, Rebecca Corruccini. The program concludes with Symphony No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Maestro Manny Laureano thinks that the second movement is so romantic, you might want to bring a date! Wrap up your Valentine’s weekend with a concert of beautiful music. Ticket information can be found here.

Keep an eye on this page for Manny’s Musings, a preview of the concert music.

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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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