A dear friend graced us with tickets to the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra Concert last weekend. The performance, “Classic Romance” was conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and featured Stephen Hough on the piano for the Brahms work as part of an orchestra of 72 outstanding musicians.
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, Johannes Brahms, 1861 version
The three movements, Maestoso, Adagio, and Rondo: Allegro non troppo, featured incredible solo work on the Festival’s new grand piano by Stephen Hough amidst the splendor of a full orchestra consisted of lead instrumentalists from many philharmonic and symphony orchestras from across the United States.
Hough, a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2001, is considered one of the most gifted pianists of his generation. You may find one of the more than 40 CD’s in his published catalog (Hyperion) to enjoy an extraordinary musical experience.
The Concerto is a beautiful, lyrical work, infused with a powerful feeling of emotional tragedy counterpoised with a gentle and quiet romanza. In addition to Hough’s solo interludes, the powerful strings worked in perfect unison to bring strength and grace to the entire work. Wonderful!
Director Mark Wigglesworth, who has gained renown conducting concerts with many leading symphonies world-wide for many years, demonstrated a seamless mastery of the music and control of the Festival Orchestra for both the Brahms and the Rachmaninoff works.
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44, Sergei Rachmaninoff, 1936.
The three divisions of the Symphony, Lento-Allegro moderato-Allegro, Adagio ma non troppo-Allegro vivace, and Allegro-Allegro vivace-Allegro (Tempo primo)-Allegretto-Allegro vivace, revealed a subtle but clear Russian temperment imbued with an also subtle but striking 1930’s modernity. As the program notes by Roger Ruggeri stated, “This Symphony is characterized by a profusion of those sweeping catabile phrases, darkened by moods of melancholy brooding and impassioned stress, which are typical of Rachmaninoff’s instrumental creations. Sombre, lyrical, defiant, it is a work wholly representative of the Slavic genius and of Mr. Rachmaninoff in particular, by reason of certain unmistakable turns of phrase and of orchestral rhythm and diction.”
The Grand Teton Music Festival, finishing its 49th season in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, is under the musical direction of Donald Runnicles. In addition to weekly orchestra performances, a series of focused “niche” concerts and remarkable solo performances. This Summer, opera star Susan Graham, piano virtuoso Stephen Hough, violinist Sarah Change, harpsichordist Paolo Bordignon, composer Jennifer Higdon, and other luminaries, brought musical quality matching the heights of the adjacent Teton Mountains!
Find an opportunity to investigate and attend a summer music festival in your area – they have widely proliferated around the country – in addition to the standard Symphony season – to enjoy the powerful works of instrumentalists, vocalists and conductors who normally do not work together. To see and hear the ability of great works of music to rapidly coalesce such a group into a seamless whole is a phenomenal experience.
As the motto of the Grand Teton Music Festival this year asks,
Where will the music take you?