Clair de Lune, from Suite bergamasque (1890) (orch. Stokowski) Concerto No. 23 in A Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 488 (1786)

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1 November 28-30, 2014 Bramwell Tovey, conductor Orion Weiss, piano Women of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, Charles Bruffy, Chorus Director Debussy Clair de Lune, from Suite bergamasque (1890) (orch. Stokowski) Mozart Concerto No. 23 in A Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 488 (1786) I. Allegro II. Adagio III. Allegro assai Orion Weiss, piano Intermission Holst The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Op. 32 (1916) I. Mars, the Bringer of War II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age VI. Uranus, the Magician VII. Neptune, the Mystic Women of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus

2 Notes on the Program by Ken Meltzer Concert Overview Claude Debussy ( ) Clair de Lune, from Suite bergamasque (1890) (orch. Stokowski) 5 minutes The concert opens with legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski s lovely orchestration of Claude Debussy s beloved, atmospheric work for solo piano, Clair de lune. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( ) Concerto No. 23 in A Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 488 (1786) 26 minutes Mozart composed the Piano Concerto No. 23 at the height of his popularity in Vienna as a composer, virtuoso pianist, and teacher. The Concerto, in three movements, showcases the impeccable technique, brilliant musicality, and affecting lyricism, trademarks of Mozart s keyboard artistry. Gustav Holst ( ) The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Op. 32 (1916) 51 minutes Gustav Holst s The Planets was inspired by the English composer s keen interest in astrology. Each of the work s seven movements depicts astrological qualities of the various planets. The Planets, scored for a large virtuoso ensemble (and wordless female chorus in the concluding Neptune, the Mystic), is one of the most beloved English orchestral showpieces. Claude Debussy ( ) Clair de Lune, from Suite bergamasque (1890) (orch. Stokowski) 5 minutes 4 flutes, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, French horn, 2 trumpets, glockenspiel, harp, and strings. The legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski ( ) made numerous orchestral transcriptions of works by other composers, most notably Johann Sebastian Bach. But a particular favorite of Stokowski s was his arrangement of Claude Debussy s Clair de lune, part of the French composer s early collection of solo piano pieces, the Suite bergamasque (1890).

3 Stokowski frequently programmed his transcription of Clair de lune in concert. He also made several recordings, including one with the Philadelphia Orchestra intended for the Walt Disney animated film Fantasia (1940) that was cut, due to time considerations. When Arnold Schoenberg first heard Stokowski s lovely orchestration of Clair de lune, he thought it was an original of Debussy. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( ) Concerto No. 23 in A Major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 488 (1786) 26 minutes Solo piano, flute, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, and strings. In the mid-1780s, Mozart reached the apex of his popularity in Vienna. Mozart was in constant demand as a composer, virtuoso pianist, and teacher. In a letter to his father Leopold written in February of 1784, Mozart proudly exclaimed: The whole morning is given over to my pupils, and nearly every evening I have to play (here the composer lists twenty-two events from February 26 to April 3)...Have I not enough to do? I do not think I shall get out of practice in these circumstances... In October of 1785, Mozart began work on his opera The Marriage of Figaro. Mozart was anxious to establish himself as an important composer of Italian opera buffa. He poured his energies into Figaro, which premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on May 1, Still, Mozart found time to compose several other important works during this period, including three Piano Concertos K. 482 in E b, K. 488 in A and K. 491 in C minor. Mozart completed the score of the Concerto in A on March 2, Specific documentation of the work s premiere no longer exists. But Mozart s usual practice was to appear as soloist in the premiere of a piano concerto shortly after its completion. There are records of Lenten concerts in Vienna held during March of It is quite possible those concerts featured the premiere of Mozart's A-major Concerto. The Concerto No. 23 is an introspective work (no trumpets or drums) that rejects overt showmanship in favor of a restrained, and at times, heartbreaking lyricism, most notably in the central Adagio. The spirited finale perhaps reminds us that the A-Major Concerto was the product of one of the most exhilarating periods in Mozart s tragically brief life. The Concerto No. 23 is in three movements. The first (Allegro) begins with the traditional double exposition (orchestra, then soloist) of the principal themes. The development section of the A Major is based not, as expected, upon material already introduced, but an entirely new theme, initially played by the violins. Also unusual is the fully transcribed cadenza toward the movement s close. The lyrical writing for the soloist in the slow second movement (Adagio), typical of Mozart's concertos, bears a kinship to some of the composer s most affecting operatic creations, notably Pamina s despairing second-act aria from The Magic Flute (1791). The soloist launches into the playful central theme of the rondo finale (Allegro assai) with the orchestra quickly

4 following suit. The predominant mood, including the finale s joyous closing pages, is of the highest spirits. Gustav Holst ( ) The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Op. 32 (1916) 51 minutes Female chorus, 2 piccolos, 4 flutes, bass flute, three oboes, bass oboe, English horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tenor tuba, bass tuba, timpani (2 players), triangle, side drum, tambourine, cymbals, bass drum, gong, bells, glockenspiel, xylophone, two harps, celeste, organ, and strings. Gustav Holst once remarked, As a rule I only study things that suggest music to me. It was Holst s lifelong interest in astrology that inspired his most popular orchestral work, The Planets. The Planets occupied Holst from the spring of 1914 to the winter of For the most part, Holst composed in a specially constructed soundproof room at the St. Paul s Girls School, where he taught. During the course of his work on The Planets, Holst read a booklet by Alan Leo (What is a Horoscope?) that provided suggestions for characteristics of the various planets. Holst described his orchestral work as a series of mood pictures in which the movements each representing a planet of the solar system acted as foils to one another. The various movements were not arranged in accordance with the order of the planets in the solar system, but rather, in such a manner as to achieve optimal musical contrast and effect. Holst couched his expression in a large virtuoso orchestra that includes a six-part wordless female chorus in the concluding movement, Neptune, the Mystic. A private concert performance of The Planets took place at Queen s Hall in London on September 29, Holst chose the young Adrian Boult (later Sir Adrian) to conduct the first performance, which proved to be a great success. The first public performance of The Planets took place on February 27, 1919, again with Boult conducting at Queen s Hall (although Venus and Neptune were not played on that occasion). The Planets soon received numerous performances in throughout Europe and the world. Along with Edward Elgar s Enigma Variations (1899), The Planets, a thrilling sonic adventure, remains one of the most popular large-scale British orchestral works. I. Mars, the Bringer of War II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity

5 V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age VI. Uranus, the Magician VII. Neptune, the Mystic

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