SASO Opening 2020 Concert Beethoven and Richard Strauss

Punch Howarth

The Feb. 15-16 concerts by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra

will perform two divergent works of Ludwig van Beethoven and an unusual opus by Richard Strauss. Opening the concert will be a frivolous short work, “Turkish March,” featuring the Turkish instruments, triangle, cymbals, and bass drum. The “Marcia alla Turca” is one of ten selections in the play The Ruins of Athens, which is no longer performed. The march and overture are performed infrequently.

Ending the concert will be Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7” in A minor that I like to label his “rhythm symphony.” All of the four movements are built on different rhythms. Movement one, marked slow sustained-very fast, opens with an extended slow introduction avoiding the home key A in 4/4 time. Ending two ways the intro ends in the related key of E and hints at the rhythm to come, which is a very fast 6/8 in the home key of A. The several themes and rhythm continually develop and the coda ends with a horn fanfare and three power strokes.

A moderately slow 2/4 time in A minor marks movement two, which features variations and ends unfinalized with a dissonance that begins the movement three scherzo that follows. This whirlwind very fast presto in 3/8 time presents theme A twice, a trio twice, A and trio return once eac,h and ends with an abrupt surprise. The symphony ends in the home key with a quite fast rondo in two time with extreme variations on the 16th note rhythm.

SASO welcomes guest conductor Matthias Manasi from Germany, where he studied at the Conservatory in Stuttgart. He was associated with well-known conductors Kurt Masur, Manfred Honeck, and Heinz Holliger. He has conducted orchestras in Munich, Hamburg, Rome, Bucharest, Helsinki, Vienna, and Berlin. He has also conducted 17 well-known operas. He will conduct the Strauss from the piano.

A major selection will be Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, also called Der Berger als Edelmann in German, by Richard Strauss. This nine-part work marks the beginning of phase three of his compositions using a much smaller orchestra and is far less flamboyant. This 1670 ballet work is based upon a French story by Moliere with music by Jean Baptiste Lully. The music is quasi neomodern trying to imitate the Baroque sound. There will be brief piano, violin, and cello solos.

The concert will be presented at SaddleBrooke’s DesertView Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 15th at 7:30 p.m. and in Oro Valley at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. on Feb. 16th. For tickets and other information go to