Overture Magazine - 2015-2016 Season March-April 2016 - Page 35

program notes { should turn to Kevin Puts to create a new work saluting the Orchestra’s 100th anniversary. Not only has he been on the faculty of the Peabody Institute since 2006, but he has become one of the nation’s most sought-after composers, for music in a wide variety of genres including operas, symphonies, concertos, and orchestral tone poems. Puts’ opera Silent Night, premiered at the Minnesota Opera in 2011, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music and has subsequently been produced at major houses in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 2015, he followed this success with another opera for Minnesota, The Manchurian Candidate based on Richard Condon’s famous novel, which also was an extraordinary success. Next November, in New York City, the superb American soprano Renée Fleming will premiere a new Puts work for soprano and orchestra written expressly for her. The City is a tone poem that was co-commissioned to honor two major American musical anniversaries: the BSO’s 100th and Carnegie Hall’s 125th Not only Marin Alsop but also the BSO’s two previous music directors, Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman, have embraced Puts’ vibrantly appealing, emotionally expressive music. One of the composer’s most important pieces, Vision for cellist Yo-Yo Ma and orchestra, was commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival in honor of Maestro Zinman’s 70th birthday. Maestro Temirkanov chose Puts’ Network for performances here in 2002, and River’s Rush followed in 2006. Maestra Alsop introduced his Fourth Symphony, “From Mission San Juan” in 2012 and his Flute Concerto in 2015; she has also presented many of his works at her Cabrillo Festival. The City is a tone poem that was cocommissioned to honor two major American musical anniversaries: the BSO’s 100th and Carnegie Hall’s 125th and thus will be performed in both cities. Puts describes its inspiration and trajectory as follows: “Though inspired by the city of Baltimore, The City was intended as an exploration of many aspects of urban centers in America. My work on the piece intensified following the unrest of April 2015, whereupon I realized the potential for the work to transcend mere illustration and aspire to the territory of healing. “Accompanied at its premiere by a film created by James Bartolomeo, the work begins kaleidoscopically with panoramic views of the city, its spires, monuments, buildings, and infrastructure. Anchored by a simple two-note motive, this opening evolved into a depiction of people — all sorts of people — involved in a variety of situations. Drums and strings create a groove together, while woodwinds and brass introduce primal-sounding melodies. An anthem arises in the string section, followed by a deconstruction and rebuilding of this theme, though on less-stable harmonic ground. A moment of suspense follows as a single note is sustained and passed through the sections of the orchestra. From here, the work gradually builds to cataclysmic dimensions until the opening motive — and then the anthem — are rediscovered. The City ends in a haze of uncertainty. I imagined a helicopter making a final pass over the city until it recedes into the distance. “We are a species suffering the pains of its adolescence. Let us have the resolve, the compassion, and the foresight to force our own evolution to a place of reason and harmony.” Instrumentation: Three flutes (including piccolos), three oboes (including English horn), three clarinets (including E-flat clarinet and bass clarinet), three bassoons (including contrabassoon), four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, piano, and strings. Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor Gustav Mahler Born in Kalischt, Bohemia, July 7, 1860; died in Vienna, May 18, 1911 On February 24, 1901, Gustav Mahler had his first close brush with death. It had been a typically frenetic day; he had conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in the afternoon, then moved on to the opera house in the evening to lead a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Later that night, he suffered a violent hemorrhage, and his sister Justine found him lying in a pool of blood. He recalled, “While I was hovering on the border between life and death, I wondered whether it would not be better to have done with it at once, since everyone must come to that in the end.” But Mahler’s constitution was still robust and after surgery he recovered rapidly. After this crisis, the summer of 1901 turned out to be the most productive and serene of Mahler’s career. Because of his nonstop conducting career from September through May, only the summer months were available for composing. In 1901, a new summer home awaited him, a splendid villa he had had built in the village of Maiernigg on the shores of the peaceful Wörtersee in southern Austria. The composer was delighted with this retreat. “It’s too beautiful, one shouldn’t allow oneself such a thing,” his puritan conscience complained. Up a steep path in the woods was his little composing cottage or Häuschen, meagerly furnished with a piano, a worktable, and a chair or two. Here that summer, he created th