Houston Symphony Broadcasts

Giving The Orchestra The Ax

With works by Maurice Ravel, J.S. Bach, and Richard Strauss.

Emanuel Ax
Emanuel Ax, featured soloist on this concert by the Houston Symphony

On the next Houston Symphony Broadcast, we get a double dose of Emanuel Ax, and a double dose of Strauss!

With renowned pianist Emanuel Ax as a guest soloist, the first piece on the program is fitting! Maurice Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales (Noble and Sentimental Waltzes) is a work originally for piano, inspired by another set of piano works from Franz Schubert… though the only resemblance is in the title. Only a year after writing the piano work, Ravel published an orchestral version that is featured on this program with Hannu Lintu as the guest conductor.

Next, Emanuel Ax performs with the symphony on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052. Naturally, Bach is widely regarded as a master of contrapuntal writing, and the concerto form lends itself nicely to that style, with the solo keyboard part playing against the orchestra. Historically, this is one of Bach’s works that was championed by Felix Mendelssohn in the nineteenth century, when the music of Bach was seeing a revival of interest.

Ax remains for the next piece, a significantly later work: Richard StraussBurleske in D minor. This was written in the late nineteenth century, when Strauss was only 21 years old. It was originally named Scherzo in D minor, but the composer embraced the irreverent style of the burlesque with a new title.

Finally, keeping with Strauss, the orchestra performs the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier. This is one of Strauss’ most popular operas, and tells the comedic story of two young lovers who use the help of an older princess to outsmart the somewhat repugnant Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau. It’s full of intrigue and laughs, and might be familiar if you heard the Houston Symphony’s Opening Night concert from this season!

Tune in for this concert Sunday (1/29) on News 88.7 or Wednesday (2/1) on Houston Public Media Classical at 8 PM.

 

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