A dramatic violin-orchestra collaboration, a sensual symphonic poem and a genuine mystery – by Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy and Edward Elgar – are the musical treats in store for symphony-goers at our March 24 concert, Glorious Adventure. All three pieces – Violin Concerto, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Enigma Variations – were composed during the same time period, near the turn of the 20th century. Tasmanian-born violinist Adele Anthony, youngest winner of Australia’s ABC Instrumental and Vocal Competition, performs as soloist for the Brahms piece.
Johannes Brahms composed his Violin Concerto in 1878 – his sole concerto for the instrument yet generally accepted as one of the greatest ever written. The technical aspects required of the soloist are challenging, with multiple stopping, broken chords, rapid scale passages and rhythmic variation. The beauty of the work, as in many of Brahms’ pieces, is the elegant interaction of the soloists with the entire ensemble. The work premiered in Leipzig in 1879, directed by Joseph Joachim, to whom the piece was dedicated.
Adele Anthony began playing the violin at age 2 1/2. After winning the ABC Competition, she performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on live television, then performed it live again in 1992 after winning the Aspen Music Festival Walton Competition. Now a U.S. resident, Ms. Anthony has received awards in several Australian competitions as well as international violin competitions in Paris, Hannover and the United States. She also is an avid chamber musician and active recording artist and often tours with her husband, Israeli-American violinist Gil Shaham. She performs on a 1728 Stradivarius.
French composer Claude Debussy is one of the most prominent of the impressionist musicians popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is considered a prime example of the movement. The piece is a musical retelling of Stephane Mallarme’s poem “Afternoon of a Faun,” in which the faun is a half-man, half-goat creature of ancient Greek legend, represented in this work by sensual flute solos. The composition, a single movement, premiered in Paris in 1894. Afterward, an initially doubtful Mallarme wrote his friend that he had been “deeply moved” by the Prelude’s musical interpretation.
Edward Elgar is presumed to have hidden a puzzle in his Enigma Variations – formally Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 – but music detectives have not yet unraveled it. He dedicated the work “to my friends pictured within” – the “pictures” being musical sketches representing personality characteristics of several close acquaintances. It is suspected the full piece contains a hidden melody. Enigma premiered in London in June 1899 but was not introduced in its final variation until the following September. The piece was highly acclaimed and ensured the composer’s fame.
Glorious Adventure will be performed March 24 at the Harris Center for the Arts on the Folsom Lake College campus, 10 College Parkway, Folsom. You can buy tickets online, from the theater ticket office or by calling 916-608-6718