Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Sigal Plays Carmen Fantasie January 15-18

Program features guest conductor Daniel Hege and
HSO concertmaster and principal violinist Leonid Sigal

Lenoid Sigal, violin. (Photo by Matt Fried)
Lenoid Sigal, violin. (Photo by Matt Fried)

Taking inspiration from poems, folklore and stories, The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present Sigal Plays Carmen Fantasie as the fourth concert of its 2014-2015 Masterworks Series on Thursday, January 15 through Sunday, January 18 in the Belding Theater at The Bushnell in Hartford.  The concerts will feature guest conductor and music director of the Wichita Symphony Daniel Hege and HSO concertmaster and principal violinist Leonid Sigal.  The program will include de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo, Chausson’s Poème, Op. 25, Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie, Sibelius’ Finlandia, Op. 26 and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 in E flat Major, Op. 82. The 2014-2015 Masterworks Series is sponsored by MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation. Sigal plays Carmen Fantasie is The Koski Memorial Concert.

About the Program

The ballet El amor brujo is one of the great works of an era that witnessed an explosion of interest in indigenous folk music as the basis for concert compositions. In this epochal score, Manuel de Falla, working with the care and precision of a watchmaker, penetrated into the very heart of the Spanish musical idiom to find its unalloyed essence. “Falla’s work reacts against the turgid romanticism of the 19th century and reverts to the clarity of the 18th-century clavecinists,” wrote A.A. Fraser. “The dry flower of the guitar gives it movement, the song of the people gives it life.” Distilled from Gypsy cante jondo, Andalusian melodies and rhythms, flamenco and other aspects of the Spanish melos, Falla’s music shows him to be, in the words of Georges Jean-Aubrey, “a poet of Spanish emotion.”

Poème shows the lyricism, advanced harmonic style presaging the Impressionists and soulful melancholy that mark Earnest Chausson’s best works. Though unified through melodic reiteration, the score does not follow any traditional Classical formal model, but is rather constructed around lines of rising and falling tension. Wrote the British critic and composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, “The prevailing mood of Chausson’s music is an entrancing melancholy, tender and twilit, a melancholy free from whine or morbid sentiment, [which] is expressed in the terms of the utmost sensitive refinement, subtle beauty and aristocratic distinction of manner.”

Franz Waxman was among those composers whose music made the screen glitter during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie originated as a segment for Humoresque (1946), which starred John Garfield as an aspiring violinist who gets involved with a wealthy patroness, portrayed by Joan Crawford in one of her most memorable roles; Oscar Levant provided the comic relief. The violinist on the soundtrack was the 26-year-old Isaac Stern. The following year Waxman revised the Fantasie as a virtuoso concert piece for Jascha Heifetz.

The hymnal theme of Finlandia has a directness and simplicity that suggest folksong, yet Jean Sibelius insisted, “I have never used a theme that was not of my own invention. Thus the thematic material of Finlandia is entirely my own.” (In his biography of the composer, however, Harold E. Johnson stated that the opening measures are nearly identical with those of a then-popular composition for male chorus titled Arise, Finland! written by Emil Genetz in 1881.) As a preface to this inspirational melody, Sibelius provided a portentous introduction of sullen brass chords, which are subsequently appropriated by the full orchestra, and a vivacious passage of soaring optimism. A broad statement of the hymn’s opening phrases serves as a grand coda for this timeless document of musical nationalism.

For the London premiere in 1921 of his Symphony No. 5, Sibelius asked that a note appear in the printed program stating, “The composer desires his work to be regarded as absolute music, having no direct poetic basis.” Though no specific story or program can be reconciled with the Fifth Symphony, it is impossible to deny the life-giving, heroic optimism with which it ends, especially when compared with the introspective Symphony No. 4, so it is understandable that some critics and listeners heard here an affirmation of the human spirit at a time when the First World War was threatening the very foundations of Western culture. Time has not diminished the work’s overwhelming emotional impact.

Daniel Hege, conductor. (Photo by Christian Steiner)
Daniel Hege, conductor. (Photo by Christian Steiner)

About Daniel Hege
The 2014-2015 season marks Daniel Hege’s fifth as Music Director and Conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.  Hege is the seventh music director in the Orchestra’s 70-year history.  He has been widely recognized as one of America’s finest young conductors, earning critical acclaim for his fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire and for his commitment to creative programming.
Following a nationwide search, Mr. Hege was named Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in April 1999.  In June 2001, he completed a five year tenure with the Baltimore Symphony where he held the titles of Assistant, Associate and Resident Conductor and led the orchestra in subscription, family and run-out concerts. Mr. Hege also served as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, Assistant Conductor of the Pacific Symphony, Music Director of the Encore Chamber Orchestra in Chicago and Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony where he was twice honored by the League of American Orchestras for innovative programming.

Calendar Listing

Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, January 15-18, 2015
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm?Friday & Saturday 8pm?Sunday 3pm
A pre-concert talk by Daniel Hege will take place one hour prior to each performance.
Daniel Hege, conductor
Lenoid Sigal, violin

de Falla Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo
Chausson Poème, Op. 25
Waxman Carmen Fantasie
Sibelius Finlandia, Op. 26
Sibelius Symphony No. 5 in E flat Major, Op. 82

Ticket Information: Tickets to this concert range in price from $32.50-$67.50. Student tickets are $10. On Saturday, January 17, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 987-5900 or visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.

Season Sponsor: Travelers
Masterworks Series Sponsors:
MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation
The Koski Memorial Concert
POPS! Series Presenting Sponsor: United Technologies
The Sunday Serenades Chamber Music Series is made possible, in part, by the Helen M.
Saunders Charitable Foundation Music endowment at the Wadsworth Atheneum.
HSO programs are funded in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


Upcoming HSO Concerts

Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, February 12-15, 2015
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm?Friday & Saturday 8pm?Sunday 3pm
Tickets starting at $38.50; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Sean Chen piano
Wagner Overture to Tannhäuser, WWV 70
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Bernstein Three Dance Episodes from On the Town (including images from the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Coney Island exhibit)
Stravinsky The Firebird (L’oiseau de feu): Suite (1919 version)
Orchestra Fireworks take flight from Venus to New York to Russia, including Rachmaninoff’s sumptuous Second Piano Concerto and Stravinsky’s romantic Firebird. Guest artist Sean Chen won the Van Cliburn and several other international piano competitions.
The Tina Maher McNally and Alexander Campbell McNally Memorial Concert
The HSO’s collaboration with the Wadsworth Atheneum featuring images from the Coney Island exhibit is sponsored by the Richard P. Garmany Fund at Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra POPS! Series
The Music of Michael Jackson
Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Mortensen Hall at The Bushnell
Tickets starting at $20.00; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Join guest artist James Delisco, conductor Brent Havens and the HSO for an evening filled with fabulous music spanning 40 years of Michael Jackson’s influential and celebrated career.  Get ready to sing and moonwalk along to the hits, from the Jackson 5 to  iand beyond, including ABC, I’ll Be There, Beat It, Rock With You, The Way You Make Me Feel, and more.

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