Colorado Music Festival features illustrious soloists during 2018 season

Fresh Fridays return, Mashups and Happy Hour Concerts do not

By Peter Alexander  Jan. 26, 2018 at 12:10 a.m.

There will be some things old, some things new, and a few things gone missing at the Colorado Music Festival (CMF) this summer.

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CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

The 2018 season, announced by the festival today, was assembled by artistic advisor Peter Oundjian in association with the CMF board of directors and the summer’s slate of guest conductors. Oundjian was appointed in place of former music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni, who stepped down after the 2017 season.

Zeitouni remains as principal guest conductor, and will lead three concerts during the summer. Oundjian will conduct eight concerts, including one pair with the same program, and guest conductors will take the remaining orchestral concerts.

A quick glance at the schedule shows that there will be fewer performances than in most recent summers. The season will largely comprise more-or-less standard orchestra programs, performed by either the full Festival Orchestra on Thursdays and Fridays, or the CMF Chamber Orchestra on Sundays. Over the summer, Saturdays will offer two family concerts, two chamber concerts performed by members of the CMF orchestra, and one vocal-piano recital. An additional “Family Fun” concert will be on a Friday (see full schedule below).

All concerts will be in the Chautauqua Auditorium, and nothing has been scheduled for Monday–Wednesday. But Oundjian has brought in a dazzling array of soloists that should attract audience interest, and there will be some hugely popular pieces along the way. The interest of variety is served by a season-long emphasis on music made in America, which brings a number of newer and less familiar works into the schedule.

Olga Kern

Pianist Olga Kern returns to the CMF Aug. 4

The six-week season opens Thursday, June 28, with Brazilian-born conductor Marcelo Lehninger, music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and violinist Vadim Gluzman, and ends with the Festival Finale concert Saturday, Aug. 4, featuring the return of the popular pianist Olga Kern to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on an all-American program conducted by Oundjian.

In addition to Kern, returning soloists over the summer will be pianist Orion Weiss, who will play Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto July 1, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung will sing the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde July 19, Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde July 29, and a song recital July 28.

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Pianist Yefim Bronfman. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Other soloists include several with illustrious careers, as well as promising younger artists. Two of the best known are friends that Oundjian invited to perform here: pianist Yefim Bronfman, who will make his CMF debut with Brahms’s First Piano Concerto July 12 and 13 on the only program to be repeated in its entirety; and violinist Robert McDuffie, who will play Philip Glass’s “American Four Seasons” July 15. The Glass piece was written for McDuffie, and premiered by him with Oundjian conducting in 2009.

“I came (to Boulder) last summer, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Chautauqua,” Oundjian says. “This is just such a beautiful place. And I thought the orchestra was wonderful. And so I said to everyone, ‘C’mon, you should come out here, it will be great fun!’”

Other soloists over the summer will be violinists Gluzman, Philippe Quint and Augustin Hadelich; pianist Gabriela Martinez; and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan.

A prominent feature of the season is music by American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Samuel Barber, Philip Glass, John Adams, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Joan Tower and George Walker are all on the schedule, as is Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is being celebrated on seven of the summer’s performances.

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Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial shapes much of the festival

But as Oundjian explains, the theme is broader than that. “The 100th anniversary of Bernstein was my starting point,” he says. “Everything I’m conducting is connected in one way or another with Bernstein: music that would have inspired him, which is a lot of the American music, and then music that he inspired.

Peter Oundjian 2017-18 - 3 - credit Malcolm Cook

Peter Oundjian

“There are several pieces by European composers written on American soil. The only two pieces I’m conducting that were not written on American soil were two of Bernstein’s favorite pieces. One is the Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, which he considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time” (July 29).

The second piece is the Brahms First Piano Concerto (July 12–13), which Bernstein conducted in a notorious performance with pianist Glenn Gould in 1962. Bernstein gave a famous speech before the performance in which he stated both his disagreement with Gould’s interpretation, and support for his right to that interpretation.

The pieces written in America by European composers will be Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (July 12), Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet (July 21) and Cello Concerto (Aug. 2), Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (July 26) and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (Aug. 2).

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Each of the other conductors created their own programs apart from Oundjian’s American theme. In his one week at Chautauqua, Zeitouni continues showing his love for great vocal music with the performance of the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

There are other classical blockbusters on the guest-conductor programs. Zeitouni will conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade July 19 and 20, and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony July 21. Lehninger will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 on opening night, and Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” with Weiss July 1, and conductor David Danzmayr has programmed Mahler’s First Symphony July 5.

There are some obvious changes from past seasons, partly on account of decisions made by the board. For example, there will be no Tuesday night performances, and the series that previously occupied those nights—Mashup concerts and their successor, Happy Hour concerts—are missing from the schedule. “Fresh Fridays,” short, informal concerts on Friday evenings that start at 6:30, will continue for a second year.

“We found last year that the sales for our Friday nights were actually higher than the Tuesday nights,” CMF executive director Elizabeth McGuire explains. “Those (‘Fresh Friday’) concerts point more directly to our core product, so we were thrilled about that. We wanted to put emphasis on these concerts.”

There will be two “Fresh Fridays” during the summer, one conducted by Zeitouni on July 20 and one conducted by Oundjian on July 27. Each will repeat one work from the full orchestral program of the preceding evening, and one work selected for its popular appeal.

Another reason McGuire cited for the decrease in the overall number of concerts was that the musicians believed the schedule had become too full. “They were concerned about (repetitive motion) injury, because we were typically offering more (rehearsals and concerts) per week than they would have in their home orchestras,” she says. “They felt that it was just too much in the span of one week.

“We wanted to listen to what the musicians were telling us. They are our greatest asset, so we tried to give them a day off during the week, and we also are increasing their pay this year. Those were ways to make our musicians know that we were listening to them and that we wanted to support them.”

Also missing this year is a “Click” Commission premiere. “The reason is, we didn’t get a lot of enthusiasm” last year, McGuire says. “If we’re going to do something like that, we want people to be engaged and interested in it.”

She does point out that there will be two world premieres during the summer, both pieces by Australian composer Tim Collins, Buch des Sängers (The singers’ book) performed by De Young and the Festival Orchestra under Zeitouni July 19, and LOVES CRUSADE performed by De Young with pianist Cody Garrison July 28.

A new feature of the CMF’s concerts for children and families is that they have been designated “sensory-friendly,” meaning they have been designed to be welcoming to families with children who have “sensory sensitivities.” The accommodations at these performances include leaving the house lights on during the concert and providing a movement area at the back of the hall. (See the full description of these concerts below.)

Season subscriptions for the 2018 Colorado Music Festival are on sale now through the Chautauqua Box Office (phone: 303.440.7666). Single tickets will go on sale March 12.


The next Music Director: No news is good news
Peter Oundjian was hired as artistic advisor to CMF, not as a permanent music director. The search for a new music director is entirely private, and none of this summer’s guest conductors should be considered a candidate for the position, according the executive director Elizabeth MGuire. “There’s no public aspect of (the search) whatsoever,” she says.
“The more we talk about it, the less chance we have of attracting who we want, so it’s all under wraps. Hopefully, people will understand why we’re so close-lipped about it.
No timetable has been announced for filling the position.

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Colorado Music Festival
Peter Oundjian, Artistic Advisor
2018 Season

chautauqua-boulder-coloradoAll concerts at Chautauqua Auditorium

 

WEEK 1

7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28: Opening Night
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Vadim Gluzman, violin
John Corigliano: Promenade Overture

Bernstein: Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, op. 36

2 p.m. Saturday, June 30: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Strings”
Members of the CMF Orchestra. SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Orion Weiss, piano

Stravinsky: Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

WEEK 2 

Gabriela Martinez:Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Gabriela Martinez. By Lisa-Marie Maszucco

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Gabriela Martinez, piano

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K466 in D minor
Mahler: Symphony No. 1

2 p.m. Saturday, July 7: Young People’s Concert: “Dances From Around the World”
Radu Paponiou, conductor
SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Philippe Quint, violin

Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Schubert: Symphony No. 3

WEEK 3

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and Friday, July 13
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Yefim Bronfman, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, op. 45 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

robert_mcduffiebyChristianSteiner

Robert McDuffie. By Christian Steiner

Stravinsky: Octet for Wind Instruments
Prokofiev: Two Pieces for String Octet
Mendelssohn: String Octet, op. 20

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Robert McDuffie, violin

Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Philip Glass: Concerto No. 2 for Violin, “American Four Seasons”

WEEK 4

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Timothy Collins: Buch des Sängers (World Premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20: FRESH FRIDAYS*
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2 (“Company”)
Barber: String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12, op. 96 (“American”)

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Ravel: Mother Goose
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)

WEEK 5

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Augustin Hadelich, violin

Paul Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto
George Walker: Lyric for Strings
John Adams: “Doctor Atomic” Symphony 

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 27 FRESH FRIDAYS*
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony

1922 Michelle DeYoung HI RES_blur ART 1 version

Michelle DeYoung

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano, and Cody Garrison, piano

Art songs by Brahms, Richard Strauss and Samuel Barber.
Timothy Collins: LOVES CRUSADE (world premiere) 

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Joan Tower: Made in America
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Mahler: Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde

WEEK 6

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra 

2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Brass”
Members of the CMF Orchestra. SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4: Festival Finale
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Olga Kern, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Samuel Barber: Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, op. 9
George Gershwin: An American in Paris
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

 _____________________ 

*Fresh Fridays: Start at 6:30 p.m. with an hour-long, intermission free concert, leaving patrons time to go out for post-concert dinner and drinks.

Family Fun Concerts give younger children a chance to meet different sections of the orchestra, as small ensembles perform short, informal 45-minute programs.

The Young People’s Concert is designed for children ages 4 and older and includes events after the concert on the great lawn, with costumed characters, hands-on instruments, creative face painting, and other activities.

Sensory-Friendly Concerts are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or other conditions that create sensory sensitivities. Accommodations: house lights will remain on during the performance; microphone volumes will be decreased; staff will be easily accessible for any problems or questions; involuntary movements and noises are acceptable and welcomed; a designated movement area in the back of the auditorium for anyone who feels the need to move during the performance; and general admission seating, so that everyone may find a comfortable place to sit.

NOTE: Edited to correct typos, Jan. 26 at 8:48 a.m.

 

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Renowned Children’s Author Jack Prelutsky joins LSO for Jan. 27 Family Concert

Longmont Youth Symphony, Young Artist Competition winner Alisa Johnson will also be featured

By Peter Alexander

When Elliot Moore wanted to bring in a superstar for the Longmont Symphony’s Family Concert, he knew whom to call.

BeholdtheBoldUmbrellaphantIn the world of children’s literature, no stars are more super then Jack Prelutsky, the first-ever U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate and multi-award winning author of more than 50 collections of poetry for children. He is also a friend of Moore’s family, and has had one of his most popular books of poems set to music, making him the perfect choice.

For the concert (4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, in Longmont’s Vance Brand Civic Auditorium), Prelutsky will narrate the performance of composer Lucas Richman’s score for Prelutsky’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, and also read his poems for selections from Camille Saint-Saëns’s classic Carnival of the Animals.

Other works on the program will be the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, featuring the LSO’s Young Artist Competition winner Alisa Johnson, a senior at Niwot High School and student of James Maurer; and the finale of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, performed together with the Longmont Youth Symphony.

Prelutsky

Jack Prelutsky

Prelutsky is a musician as well as an author. A folk singer in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, he sang for several years in the Bainbridge Island (Washington) Evergreen Singers, which was conducted by Moore’s mother. “At some point he told her that somebody had set his poetry to music, and it had been recorded with the San Diego Symphony,” Moore says. “My mom gave me a phone call, so that’s how I heard about Jack and this piece, Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant.”

The book is a set of poems about creatures that are part animals and part inanimate objects, such as the umbrellaphant, the panthermometer and the clocktopus. Prelutsky says the poems were written when he was sitting in a hotel in Hawaii, unable to go to the beach because his foot hurt. “I wrote the poem ‘Shoehornets,’ thinking about shoes and feet and pain,” he says. “I had done a book, Scranimals, where I combined animals with each other and with flowers and trees. I thought this was the next step, to combine them with ordinary objects. And so it grew from there.”

Later Prelutsky met Richman, who is conductor of the Bangor (Maine) Symphony Orchestra as well as an accomplished composer. “I was very lucky to meet him,” Prelutsky says. “We’ve become friends and we work well together.”

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Lucas Richman. Photo: Jeff Kirlin, Bangor Symphony Orchestra

Richman’s music takes eager advantage of all the musical hints in the poems. Every piece has its own character, across a wide variety of styles and musical types. The Umbrellaphant features horn calls that recall elephants’ trumpeting. The Panthermometer is a cool cat who can tell you the temperature. “He gives that one all kinds of incredible jazzy things,” Moore says.

“When we read through it, we got to the end of the Panthermometer, and we all laughed! We had a lot of fun rehearsing it, and bringing more of that jazz quality into our playing.”

Prelutsky’s poems for Carnival of the Animals came about it a completely different way, since the music existed first. The American humorous poet Ogden Nash had written a set of poems to accompany Saint-Saëns popular music in the 1940s, but Prelutsky’s publisher wanted him to write a new set of poems, because Nash’s originals were outdated. His editor called and asked, “Can you write me poems to go along with the music?”

“I said ‘I’m not sure, I don’t know, no I can’t,’” Prelutsky recalls. “I said, ‘the problem is that most of these animals I’ve already written about, and I’m not sure I have anything else to say.’ And I really meant that, but she said, ‘Give me a break, just do it.’”

“So I called her the next day and I said, ‘I finished.’”

LSO Music Director Elliot Moore_preview

Elliot Moore

Prelutsky’s appearance perfectly matches Moore’s philosophy in programming family concerts. “For me, one goal for the this concert would be to show what fun can be had in classical music, whether performing, or listening, or taking part in some other way,” he says.“Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant is the most fun work on the program. However, the Longmont Symphony has things that they have traditionally done to make this family concert engaging for youth. They have featured the Young Artist Competition winner, and I think that’s a brilliant thing to do, because it allows the children to see that mastery of your instrument by a certain age is possible.

“This concert will feature Alissa Johnson, and she sounds fantastic. And another thing that I’m really excited about is sharing the stage with the Longmont Youth Symphony. This is another way for children to say to themselves, ‘Wow! There are kids doing this, they’re receiving applause, and it looks like fun!’”

Prelutsky agrees that above all, the performance should be fun for the audience. “I hope it makes you enjoy language,” he says. “And I hope you get a laugh out of it.”

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Family Concert: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor

Alyssa Johnson

Alissa Johnson

LUCAS RICHMAN: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant
     Jack Prelutsky, narrator
SAINT-SAËNS: Selections from Carnival of the Animals
     Jack Prelutsky, narrator
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto, 1st movement
Alisa Johnson, violin, Young Artist Competition Winner
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 (Finale)
With the Longmont Youth Symphony

4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont
Tickets

 

Busy Altius Quartet returns to CU Jan. 21–22

Three concerts by the Takacs Quartet will feature appearances by CU faculty artists

By Peter Alexander

The Altius Quartet is on the move.

Overtones-Casual.Courtney-Hudffman

altos Quartet. Photo by Courtney Huffmann.

Formerly quartet-in-residence with CU’s esteemed Takacs Quartet, Altius has found themselves very busy, building their already-blossoming career. Since completing the residency, the group—comprising Andrew Giordano and Joshua Ulrich, violin, Andrew Krimm, viola, and Zachary Reaves, cello—has kept Colorado as their home base while recording two CDs, taking a trip to Beijing to collaborate with composer Bright Sheng, completing a tour of California, and giving other performances in Boulder and elsewhere.

Next they will appear on the Takacs concert series, with performances in CU’s Grusin Music Hall Sunday and Monday, Jan. 21 and 22. The series continues through the spring, with performances by the Takacs Quartet Feb. 4-5, March 11-12 and April 29-30.

A major work on the Jan. 21-22 program is taken from Altius’s recent CD of music by Shostakovich, the personal and darkly expressive String Quartet No. 8. Written in a time of despair for the composer, it is dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war,” but it is above all a reflection of Shostakovich’s own bleak thoughts at the time.

Other works on the program are Haydn’s well known “Emperor” String Quartet in C major, which includes a set of variations on “God Save Emperor Francis,” the anthem the composer wrote for Austrian Emperor Francis III; Through Fog, written for the Altius Quartet by JP Merz; and Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E minor, op. 44 no. 2.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Altius Quartet
Music of Haydn, Shostakovich, JP Merz and Mendelssohn

4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21
7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22
Grusin Music Hall

Takacs Quartet
Music of Mozart, Vaughan-William and Dohnányi
With Matthew Chellis and Andrew Cooperstock, piano

4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4
7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5
Grusin Music Hall

Music of Mozart, Boccherini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Beethoven
With Nicolò Spera, guitar

4 p.m. Sunday, March 11
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12
Grusin Music Hall

Music of Dohnányi, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky
With Erika Eckert, viola, and David Requiro, cello

4 p.m. Sunday, April 29
7:30 p.m. Monday, April 30
Grusin Music Hall

All tickets through CU Presents

Simone Dinnerstein brings performance magic and a new piece to Boulder

Concerto by Philip Glass receives standing ovation at Macky Auditorium

By Peter Alexander

Simone.D.2.by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Simone Dinnerstein. Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein brought her deep sensitivity and considerable magic to Macky Auditorium last night, performing a remarkable new piano concerto by Philip Glass with the string sections of the Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman.

Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 was written for Dinnerstein, and her Boulder performance was part of the world premiere tour of the concerto. It is a major work that should achieve considerable success with audiences in the years to come, as it did last night in Macky.

Glass’s characteristic gestures are easily found in the score, but they have been transfigured. His usual pulsing rhythms are more gentle, serving and supporting melody and harmony. The music has an emotional immediacy throughout, and the third movement in particular has moments of seductive beauty. The ending is extended, creating a hypnotic, almost ritualistic quality around lovely bits of melody. The slow unfolding of these final thoughts quietly recalls compelling passages from Glass’s previous works.

Glass-Photo

Philip Glass

At 80, Glass is entitled to write with a more valedictory and consoling tone, but there are likely two specific reasons for the nature of this piece. First, it was written for Dinnerstein. When she told Glass how much it fit her playing and her personality, he said “Well, I wrote it for you.” It’s hard to know how her influence manifests itself, but I heard a deep poeticism and introspective lyricism, qualities associated with Dinnerstein’s playing that also mark many moments in the concerto.

The other reason is the influence of J.S. Bach, a composer Dinnerstein is renowned for playing and whose Keyboard Concerto in G minor will be paired with the Glass on the current tour. There are no quotes or direct echoes of that specific piece in the Glass score, but I found it notable that the music is shaped largely by harmonic patterns, as if it were based on a Bach-like chorale, but one that wanders into unpredictable turns and paths.

Dinnerstein had both the notes and the inner life of the piece well under her fingers. Playing with evident love for the concerto, she found depths of expression in the music, including some of the simpler moments technically. Her playing was ably supported by Butterman and the Phil.

Not everyone loves Glass, but for me the performance was deeply moving, revealing both the quiet humanity of the composer and the commitment of the soloist. Standing ovations are de rigueur in Boulder, but this one seemed especially heartfelt.

The rest of the program was musically fascinating—a symphony by C.P.E., son of J.S. Bach, and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) on the fist half, and J.S. Bach’s G minor Concerto preceding the Glass. However, all three works, calling for only strings, suffered the same fate of being swallowed by Macky Auditorium’s unforgiving acoustics. Small ensembles, and strings in particular, invariably sound distant and a little cold in the hall.

The C.P.E. Bach Symphony received a refined performance, with transparent textures, and a smooth transition between the first two movements. But the characteristics of C.P.E. Bach’s mid-18th-century Rococo style, the use of sudden and shocking harmonic jolts and unexpected stops and starts, lost the larger share of its impact in the hall. The more’s the pity: C.P.E. Bach is a fascinating composer who should spice up any program—but only if the effects land with the audience.

Butterman introduced Schoenberg’s piece with a useful listener’s guide to the main ideas of the music, and how they are laid out in the score. One of the great musical/emotional outpourings of the late Romantic musical style, Verklärte Nacht portrays a passionate story of forgiveness and redemption, in which a dark and gloomy forest path is transfigured into a glittering scene of starlit beauty by the power of love.

The audience is meant to be enveloped in the lush harmonies of the score, and indeed I could see that the orchestra was playing with great intensity. Alas, the sound again was swallowed by the hall. It was well conducted and well played by the orchestra, but from Row U, it sounded all too polite and restrained to fit a story of passion.

The performance of J.S. Bach’s G-minor Concerto was a little cotton-woolish in the orchestra when more lean muscle would serve the music better, but likely this is another manifestation of Macky’s acoustics. Dinnerstein played with a clear sense of line and overall form. With a Steinway grand and modern string instruments, this was not a historically-informed performance, but Bach’s music is so ideal in conception that it does not depend on the medium.

All other issues aside, Dinnerstein, Butterman and the Boulder Phil scored a great success with the Glass Concerto. It’s only January, but that should be on any list of the year’s highlights.

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein returns to the Boulder Phil for new concerto

Philip Glass wrote his Third Piano Concerto for his former young fan

By Peter Alexander

The first time Simone Dinnerstein attended a concert alone she was 12, and she heard music by Philip Glass.

Simone.D.by Lisa-Marie Mazzocco

Simone Dinnerstein. Photo by Marie Mazzocco.

Dinnerstein has since become an internationally known concert pianist and Glass has turned 80. And remarkably, he has now written a new piano concerto for his former young fan, which she will play Jan 13 and 14 for her return to the Boulder Phil.

“It’s exciting when you discover music as a young person, and it’s your own music that has not been shown to you by a parent or a teacher,” Dinnerstein says. “So there is something kind of surreal about having him write something for me! And the fact that he wrote something as magnificent as this piano concerto is really an incredible honor.

“I can’t quite digest the fact that he wrote that for me.”

Glass’s Piano Concerto No. 3 will be on a program titled “Bach Transfigured.” The concert, featuring the orchestra’s strings under music director Michael Butterman, will also feature the Symphony in C Major by C.P.E. Bach, Transfigured Night by Arnold Schoenberg, and J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in G minor.

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“Bach Transfigured”
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Butterman, conductor
With Simone Dinnerstein, piano

C.P.E. BACH  Symphony in C Major, Wq 183, no.. 3
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG  Transfigured Night
J.S. BACH  Keyboard Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058
PHILIP GLASS  Piano Concerto No. 3
     Colorado premiere, a Boulder Phil co-commission

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, Macky Auditorium
2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, Pinnacle Performing Arts Complex, Denver

Tickets