Classical View: Pennsylvania Sinfonia concert has a lot of brass
BY KAREN EL-CHAAR
Special to The Press
The Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra has a lot of brass in its next concert.
Pennsylvania Sinfonia presents “No Strings Attached,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown. The conductor’s pre-concert talk is at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the church.
“Many of PSO’s concerts feature our string section, so for this concert I decided to showcase the talents of our wind musicians,” says Paul Chou, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra Music Director.
“There will still be strings. However, the program selections highlight various non-string and special instruments,” Chou says.
The concert opens with “Serenade for 13 Winds, Op. 7” by German composer Richard Strauss, who had just turned 17 when he composed the piece in 1881.
Strauss’s father was principal horn player for the Munich court orchestra and certainly influenced his son’s writing for winds in this work. A special instrument featured in this piece is the rare contrabassoon, also known as a double bassoon.
The program continues with several movements of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments in B flat Major KV 361, Gran Partita.”
“I chose to pair the Strauss with Mozart’s ‘Gran Partita,’ primarily because both are very lyrical, especially the third movement,” says Chou.
“In this work, the audience will hear another special period instrument, the basset horn, similar to the clarinet although longer and with a darker sound, which adds a textural element to the music,” Chou says.
The brass section is featured in the next three selections.
Girolamo Frescobaldi’s “Toccata for Double Brass Quintet,” was originally arranged as an organ toccata. “This is a very difficult and complex piece with very virtuosic brass parts,” says Chou.
Giovanni Gabrieli’s “Canzon Duodecimi Toni” (Sacred Symphony for 10-part Double Brass Choir),” a favorite of brass choirs, follows the Frescobaldi work and consists of beautiful fancy embellishments.
The third brass work, Paul Dukas’ “Fanfare pour précéder la péri,” is a powerful but short fanfare that precedes his ballet, “La Peri.” “It highlights the consistent clarity of the brass ensemble with the horns doing an interesting job pulling it all together,” Chou says.
The concert closes with Felix Mendelssohn’s “Overture for Winds in C Major, Op. 24,” a very celebratory piece which incorporates percussive instruments: snare drum, bass drum, triangle and cymbal.
Says Chou, “The Mendelssohn is a very happy, frolicking and galloping piece which resembles a march and a perfect ending for this concert, a light and fun program that we think the audience will enjoy.”
Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra, “No Strings Attached,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, with 6:30 p.m. conductor’s pre-concert talk, Christ Lutheran Church, 1245 Hamilton St., Allentown; Tickets: at the door, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra office, 1524 W. Linden St., Allentown; 610-434-7811; https://www.pasinfonia.org/
“Classical View” is a column about classical music concerts, conductors and performers. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, email@example.com