This past Sunday the Disney Concert Hall was once again filled with the beautiful music of the California Philharmonic. Popular conductor, Victor Vener, leads the audience in a rousing patriotic hymn at the beginning of each performance, giving us a sense of community and an added appreciation for the acoustics. He also prefaces each piece of music with a short lesson in Music Appreciation. It elevates the experience immensely to understand the music. It is an added benefit that he speaks with great charm and humor, like your favorite teacher in school.
The program began with Schubert, Symphony No. 7 in b-minor. Unfinished. A symphony is normally four movements, and here we have only two. It is a mystery as to why it was never completed, although Schubert did die in his 20s. Although he was a contemporary of Beethoven, Schubert is much more melodic compared to Beethoven’s usual staccato.
The symphony starts out peacefully with little fairy-like trills. Maybe I have damage from too much Fantasia (Or Allegro non Troppo), but there is a sense of longing, and I imagine a flower-filled meadow with a shepherd professing his love for a young maiden. Suddenly the music changes dramatically, building up to an intense crescendo. You are left with a feeling of rejection and pain. The second movement also begins light and airy, placing you in a young green forest. Deer drink from a nearby brook. The music almost calls you to dance. And once again, Schubert attacks, suddenly dramatic and dangerous. A hunter? A forest fire? Darkness descends.
For the more accessible songs from South Pacific, Cinderella, and the Sound of Music, soprano Jennifer Paz and baritone Anthony Federov join the orchestra. The music could be on Broadway, their voices are so pitch perfect. They are also joined by french horns and a harp.
The overture to Die Fledermaus from Strauss starts off light and happy, often highlighting one instrument. It makes me imagine dancing in a grand ballroom like Cinderella, then it sounds like a parade. After a moment of soft music, it once again goes allegro. Here, watch this: