SASO opens with Elgar, ends with Rachmaninov

Punch Howarth

Two popular works by British composer Edward Elgar will open the January concerts by Linus Lerner and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4, Op. 39 and Violin Concerto, Op. 61. Elgar composed 5 P. and C. Marches with the first being best known as it is used in graduation ceremonies in this country. No. 4 in G was composed in 1907 and is in ABABA finale form. Theme A is marked fast m.m. 112 which is a British march time, American would be m.m. 120. This opening music is syncopated with parts off the beat and two measure phrases. Theme B is a soft hymn-like stately march in key of C called “a big tune” that gradually expands. A returns-only now fortissimo and back in G. Next comes a three part coda opening with a very broad B theme in full orchestra followed by theme A again. The march concludes with an eight measure finale ending with a swelling and brass cut off. Two song lyrics have been added: The Kings Way in 1909 with verse by Mrs. Elgar and Song of Liberty, anon., during WW II. At the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Pomp and Circumstance was used as the recessional.

Turning to one of Elgar’s most serious works, the three movement Violin Concerto, one of his longest compositions at 50 minutes, composed for, and at the request of, world renowned violinist Fritz Kreistler who premiered it in London in 1910. Movement I is fast and in traditional sonata form; introduction-development-recapitulation-coda. It opens with a long orchestral ritornello of six themes in various keys. As with all sonata first movements, this is the most profound music of the work. One might say this is sit up and take notice music and the give and take between soloist and orchestra is profound. An orchestral tutti ends the movement.

Movement II in B flat, is slow, mostly soft and lyrical but does develop into a powerful climax. The Third Movement is very fast opening with soft virtuoso violin playing leading towards repeating themes from movements I and II. A more musical and less showmanship cadenza serves as the pinnacle of the entire work. The concerto ends with an emphatic orchestral statement.

Soloist will be violinist Edwin E. Soo Kim. Mr. Kim will be making another return visit with SASO where he is highly respected as a major soloist and exceptional artist.

Following intermission, Rachmaninov’s masterpiece, Symphonic Dances, will be performed and was previously explained in another article. Three performances will be available: Friday, January 27 in Green Valley at Valley Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p.m., in SaddleBrooke at DesertView Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. and in Oro Valley at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 29 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.

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