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Big tunes, big themes and a big Orchestra
The ASO's Great Classics for 2015 are just that - some of the world's best loved music by the world's finest composers, including Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss. And a rare opportunity to hear some of the biggest names in classical music today including the superlative American soprano Christine Brewer and the incomparable American pianist Garrick Ohlsson.
Passionate Tchaikovsky (14 February)
Tchaikovsky's music reaches the heart of every music-lover – overflowing with passion and boundless melody. In writing the Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky felt free to seek an ideal of musical beauty. The fame of the Fifth Symphony's big tune – this is the symphony Australians could (but thankfully don't) dub 'The Winfield' – belies the turbulence that lurks beneath.
The language of this symphony is almost a musical mother tongue for the Principal Guest Conductor, Arvo Volmer, who trained in St Petersburg. It's a musical heritage he shares with the soloist, Ilya Gringolts. Acclaimed for the brilliant personality of his playing, Gringolts is quite simply among the highest echelons of today's classical artists.
Christine Brewer is one of the great sopranos of the 21st century. Possessing a voice acclaimed for its golden tone and boundless power, Brewer invests the Four Last Songs with all the opulence, profound melancholy and sublime beauty that make this one of the most moving works in classical music.
The all-encompassing musical language of Late Romanticism is fully exploited by Mahler in his First Symphony. Its nickname, Titan doesn't refer to the symphony's massive orchestral forces (though it is big!), but to a novel by the Romantic author Jean Paul which influenced Mahler early on in writing the symphony. The name seems to have stuck because it conveys the sense of accumulating force which powers this inspiring work. It's as if all the feelings of tragedy, regret, joy and love which are essayed through the symphony generate an energy finally unleashed in the symphony's driving, exultant conclusion.
Firebrand pianist Simon Trpčeski returns to give us what will without doubt be a powerhouse performance of Tchaikovsky's eternally beloved Piano Concerto. Its opening dramatic chords start us on a musical journey filled with all the things we love about Tchaikovsky: thundering big tunes, heart-felt passion and brilliant dramatic flourishes.
Tchaikovsky is in the company of great Russian friends here. Rimsky-Korsakov, perhaps the greatest master of orchestral sounds of all time, took his inspiration from Spanish songs and dances to create the exhilarating Capriccio espagnol. After an initial scandalous failure at its premiere in 1917, Rachmaninov's Symphony No 1 has taken a long journey back to the centre of musical attention. The symphony is less reliant on the big tunes of his two later works in the genre, but possesses a thrilling youthful dynamism and dramatic power that is inspired directly by Tchaikovsky.
Vasily Petrenko's visit to Adelaide is destined to be a memorable encounter with one of the most sought-after conductors on the world stage.
From the moment the mighty Festival Theatre organ sounds its ominous pedal-note to presage that unforgettable rising fanfare, Thus Spake Zarathustra lifts us into sumptuous orchestral worlds. There's a lot more to this piece than the bit we know from 2001, but the reason it worked so perfectly in that role comes from its superb evocation of universal forces and mysteries – lightened with a touch here and there of Viennese glamour!
This concert also brings to the Adelaide stage a great pianist in Garrick Ohlsson, an American who acquired his astonishing technique and intense musicality from studies with some of the most highly esteemed pianists and teachers of the 20th Century. In partnership with Principal Guest Conductor Arvo Volmer, Ohlsson presents that most iconic of piano concertos, the Brahms First, which demands a flamboyant and virtuosic soloist.
Each of the ASO's Great Classic programs commence at 730pm at the Festival Theatre. Tickets normally sell quickly, so it pays to book early. Further details, including booking information, is available from the ASO website or from their facebook page.
Santos : Principal Partner of the ASO
The ASO Great Classic Series is part of the complete ASO program which incorporates 60 events over 2015 including the Showcase Program, Masters Series, Classics Unwrapped and Family Shows just to name a few.