Leonard Slatkin Revives Forgotten Movement "Blumine" Of Mahler's Symphony No. 1
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and Leonard Slatkin (pictured) bring to life the "lost" movement "Blumine" paired with Mahler's final version of his Symphony No. 1 in Slatkin & Mahler. Also featured in the program, part of the Comerica Charitable Foundation Favorites Classical Series, is Friandises by MusicalAmerica's 2009 Composer of the Year, Christopher Rouse. Performances take place at Orchestra Hall Thu., Apr. 23 at 8 p.m.; Fri., Apr. 24 at 10:45 a.m.; and Sat., Apr. 25 at 8:30 p.m. The Apr. 23 concert is sponsored in part by National City Bank.
Leonard Slatkin will lead his third children's concert of the 2008-2009 season with Slatkin's Stars of the Future featuring the Civic Youth Orchestra and two young soloists, Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, violin, and Sarina Zhang, piano on Sat., Apr. 25 at 11 a.m. in Orchestra Hall. The concert is free to the public but attendees must call the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office at (313) 576-5111 to reserve their seats.
A native of Los Angeles, Leonard Slatkin came to Detroit following a 12-year tenure as Music Director of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. In addition to his post at the DSO, Maestro Slatkin serves as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and Music Advisor to the Nashville Symphony. Slatkin is also renowned for his historic leadership of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1979 until 1996, where he is now Conductor Laureate. Last season, he concluded a successful three-year appointment as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
Throughout his career, Slatkin has received seven Grammy Awards, 60 Grammy nominations and has been recognized for his continuing commitment to arts education and to reaching diverse audiences. He is the founder and director of the National Conducting Institute, an advanced career development program for rising conductors. Additionally, he founded the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and has also worked with student orchestras across the United States, including those at the Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. He currently serves as Arthur R. Metz Foundation Conductor at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. He is well-known for his work with youth orchestras across America and abroad and regularly addresses and mentors public and private school students of all ages.
Presented as a Wunderkind at the age of 10, Gustav Mahler began his formal musical training at the Vienna Conservatory in 1875, where he distinguished himself as both a pianist and a composer. Mahler, like many composers of his generation, admired the music of Richard Wagner, joining the Academic Wagner Society in 1877. Mahler's Vienna, the center of the Hapsburg Empire and one of the seats of musical culture, was a conservative city where critics, such as the Conservatory's director, Joseph Hellmesberger, scorned Mahler's "modernist tendencies." Mahler did have supporters in Vienna, most notably the composer Anton Bruckner, also a professor at the Vienna Conservatory and one of Mahler's teachers.
Mahler's Symphony No. 1 was composed in a single flow of creative energy during the early part of 1889 and is remarkable in its novel and virtuosic orchestration. The composer became known for such symphonic mastery throughout his career. Yet, his First Symphony was not immediately successful. Classified as a "Symphonic Poem in Two Parts," it originally contained five movements and premiered in 1889 to poor reviews. Mahler revised the work for a second performance in Hamburg on Oct. 27, 1893, renaming the work "Titan" and including a nature-inspired narrative program, based in part on Jean Paul's novel of the same name. The symphony was better received in Hamburg, but critics took issue with the program, which seemed to relate only loosely to the music, and with the "Blumine" movement, which seemed out of place. The movement was far shorter and the sentimental mood stood apart from the rest of the work's heavy emotionality. Mahler later cut the "Blumine" movement from his First Symphony, which then became lost for decades only to be rediscovered in 1966 by British musicologist Donald Mitchell. Mahler considered "Blumine" to be an intimate and impassioned serenade depicting "two lovers exchanging their tender feelings in the silence of the night." The use of instrumentation in the piece, particularly the trumpet and oboe melodies, is delicate and sensitive.
Christopher Rouse's work, Friandises, takes its name from the French word for "delicacy" or "morsels" and alludes to the motivation for the work's form: the French Baroque Suite in five movements. However, the work does not strictly conform to its model. Rather, Rouse borrows rhythms associated with the "sicilienne" (slow movement in 6/8 or 12/8 time with lilting rhythm); the "passepied" (a Baroque dance in triple meter); and "sarabande" (Baroque dance, also of triple meter, with second note of the measure lengthened). The composer playfully stretches and condenses them into a vibrant, colorful texture.
The first movement, the "intrada" is, according to Rouse, "the least ‘French' in conception, intended as something of a clarion call for the remainder of the piece." In the "sicilienne," Rouse alludes to the traditional dance through the use of its dotted rhythm. The "passepied" and the "sarabande" also quote characteristic rhythms. The "passepied" contains over-the-bar syncopation while the fourth movement, the "sarabande," stretches and condenses the traditional triple meter, adding a pensive quality to the dance. The finale movement, the "galop," is both lighthearted and lively, ending the work, as Rouse says, "with a large dose of razzle-dazzle."
Fifteen-year old violinist Clayton Penrose-Whitmore was the First Place Junior Division Laureate in the eleventh annual Sphinx Competition 2008, presented by Chase. Penrose-Whitmore performs with the Detroit Civic Orchestra Symphony as part of the Sphinx Professional Development Program and was a soloist at the Sphinx Orchestra's Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall in September 2007, a performance that The New York Times described as a "polished presentation... notable for its lilting pulse and dynamic contrast." The Sphinx Organization is a national nonprofit arts and youth development organization dedicated to building diversity in classical music.
Penrose-Whitmore began studying the violin at the age of 4 and made his orchestral solo debut at the age of 9 with the Jacksonville (Illinois) Symphony Orchestra. He has been a soloist with the St. Louis Gateway Festival Orchestra, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Highland Park Strings, and the Alton Symphony Orchestra.
At the age of 13, Sarina Zhang has already captured top prizes in many music competitions and performed at numerous prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, the San Diego Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the New City Sinfonia and the Northridge Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, she was awarded first place in the Connecticut International Young Artist Competition in piano and second place in cello, as well as the special prize in the New York Grand Prix International Piano Competition. In 2007, she won the alternate in the Juilliard Pre-College Romberg Cello competition, the solo and concerto titles in the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, the first prize in MTAC California Piano Solo Competition, and first place in the Los Angeles Violoncello Society Scholarship Competition.
Zhang's performances have been broadcast on NPR's "From the Top" numerous times. She was featured on the PBS television show "From the Top, Live from Carnegie Hall." Zhang is a double major student in the pre-college division at the Juilliard School, studying piano with Yoheved Kaplinsky and cello with Darrett Adkins.
Tickets to Slatkin and Mahler range in price from $19 to $71 with a limited number of box seats available for $123. Tickets may be purchased at the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit); by calling (313) 576-5111; or online at www.detroitsymphony.com. Seniors (60 and over) and students with a valid student ID can purchase 50% off RUSH tickets at the box office 90 minutes prior to concerts based on availability. For group discount information (10 people or more), please contact Chuck Dyer at (313) 576-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.