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PATRICIA C. SYAK | Symphony notes U.S. composers get spotlight



Published: Sun, May 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



American composers have left their mark in musical literature with an outstanding collection of material for solo instrument and orchestra. What follows is a sampling of the music to be performed by the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra during the second half of next year's season.

During the 2001-2002 Masterworks season, the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra and Isaiah Jackson will showcase the broad spectrum of the American concerto from its earliest beginnings represented by the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 to present-day compositions. And along the way, the orchestra will perform such cherished masterpieces as the Brahms Symphony No. 3, Mozart's renowned Symphony No. 38 and Rachmaninoff's most celebrated Symphony No. 2.

When great guest artists are paired with a great orchestra, music-making ascends to new heights. Robert McDuffie, a virtuosic violinist, performs Bernstein's "Serenade." Andr & eacute; Watts returns in the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2. Richard Stoltzman is featured in the Copland Clarinet Concerto commissioned by Benny Goodman, who performed the piece with the orchestra and Franz Bibo in 1978.

Masterworks concert: Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork III was teaching at Youngstown State University in 1974 when he composed "Celebration," which opens the orchestra's Jan. 19, 2002 Masterworks concert.

Leonard Bernstein, jack of many trades and master of them all, was a conductor, composer, pianist, writer, lecturer and teacher. His "Serenade after Plato's Symposium," to be performed by Robert McDuffie, violinist, is an engaging musical tale involving a number of Greek intellectuals at a dinner giving their opinions on the nature of love. Brahms' melodiously opulent Symphony No. 3 and the Prelude from Wagner's comedic opera "Die Meistersinger" complete an orchestral evening sponsored by the Winner Foundation.

Young American soprano Christina Clark charms many on both sides of the Atlantic. She joins Isaiah Jackson and the orchestra Feb. 23 in Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" and Poulenc's "Gloria" with the Youngstown Symphony Chorus.

February and March: The orchestra performs Mozart's Symphony No. 38 "Prague" in the Feb. 23 concert sponsored by Bank One. When his symphony premiered in Prague, the enthusiastic audience could not be quieted until Mozart responded with improvisations at the piano. Completing the program is Debussy's Prelude to "The Afternoon of a Faun," an impressionistic musical picture of St & eacute;phane Mallarm & eacute;'s poem of the same name.

On March 23, 2002 Andr & eacute; Watts returns for a performance of the MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 with the orchestra. MacDowell is important not only for the quality of the composition he wrote, but in a broader sense because he was the first to show that, given the background and opportunity, an American could write serious music of distinction. "In the years since he filled in for Glen Gould with the New York Philharmonic, Mr. Watts' technique has gained in brilliance and strength, while his insights have become exquisitely penetrating and detailed," writes The New York Times. This prince of the piano is always in control. He can play loudly without harshness, softly without weakness; he can play quickly with clarity, slowly with intensity. He can make either hand stand out over the other; he can project two separate melodies in one hand. His phrasing is flawlessly executed; his pedaling never muddies the texture of the music.

Other March 23 selections include the "Four Sea Interludes" and "Passacaglia" from the opera "Peter Grimes" by Britten and Elgar's "Enigma Variations." The March 23, 2002 concert is sponsored by Ameritech.

In April: The orchestra's 2001-2002 season concludes April 20, 2002 with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman's performance of Copland's Clarinet Concerto written in 1948. Now recognized as America's leading composer, Copland's works have had a strong influence, not only on the music of this country, but on the development of the whole field of composition.

The versatility of Stoltzman's repertoire and the breathtaking tones, phrasing and nuances of his playing have distinguished the two-time Grammy winner as one of the world's most accessible and communicative artists. He shows us time and time again that Mozart, Copland, Benny Goodman and Eric Clapton can be equally enthralling.

Completing the Grand Finale concert program, underwritten in part by Youngstown Thermal, is Rachmaninoff's celebrated Symphony No. 2 and the March from Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges." popularized on radio.

XFor information and subscriptions to the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra Spirit of 76 season: The American Concerto, call the symphony box office at (330) 744-0264.




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