Jean-Marie Zeitouni, David Danzmayr return to CMF

Guest conductors will lead orchestra concerts for the next two weeks

By Peter Alexander July 11 at 4 p.m.

The Colorado Music Festival hosts the return of two guest conductors for the central portion of the six-week festival, July 11–23.

For orchestral concerts July 11-12 and July 14, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, principal guest conductor of the festival, returns to lead the Festival Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. David Danzmeyer, who appeared as guest conductor in 2015 and 2018, will lead the CMF orchestra July 18-19 and 21.

JMZBowtie

Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Photo by David Curleigh

“I’m excited about coming back” says Zeitouni, who was the festival music director 2015–17. “I share so much beautiful music making with the CMF orchestra, that it’s really heartwarming for me. And I have my favorite spot for good coffee, a good meal, a good hike, a good sunset, so this is fun.”

Zeitouni opens his CMF visit with a pair of concerts titled “Romantic Duos,” Thursday and Friday (July 11–12. Three of the pieces have romantic couples in their titles: Pelleas et Mélisande by Gabriel Fauré,Romeo and Julietby Tchaikovsky, and Bacchus et Arianeby Albert Roussel. Also on the program is Brahms’s Double Concerto for violin and cello, played by the real-life romantic duo of Mira Wang and Jan Vogler, who are married.

Zeitouni’s second CMF concert is part of the summer series tracing Beethoven’s reach into the future. Titled “Beethoven’s Path to Neoclassicism,” it will feature Beethoven’s First Symphony and Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements played with alternating movements. Completing the program is Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto played by pianist Lilya Zilberstein.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Colorado Music Festival
July 11–23
All performances at 7:30 p.m. in the Chautauqua Auditorium

Thursday & Friday July 11 & 12, 7:30 PM
ROMANTIC DUOS
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Mira Wang, violin, and Jan Vogler, cello

Fauré: Pelleas et Mélisande Suite
Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Violoncello
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture
Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2

ZIlberstein

Lilya Zilberstein

Sunday, July 14
BEETHOVEN’S PATH TO NEOCLASSICISM
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, with Lilya Zilberstein, piano

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 and Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements (movements played alternately)
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3

Tuesday, July 16
QUINTESSENTIAL HARP
CMF Chamber Players

Arnold Bax: Quintet for Harp and String Quartet
Ravel: Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet
Ravel: String Quartet
Brahms: String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major

Montero.920x920.Colin Bell

Gabriela Montero. Photo by Colin Bell

Thursday & Friday, July 18 & 19
TCHAIKOVSKY’S SYMPHONY NO. 6 “PATHETIQUE”
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Gabriela Montero, piano

Golijov: Sidereus
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”)

Sunday, July 21
MAGNIFICENT MOZART MINI-FESTIVAL I
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Stefan Jackiw, violin

Mozart: Symphony No. 32
Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”)
Overture from Don Giovanni
Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”)

Tuesday, July 23
RUSSIAN MASTERS
CMF Chamber Players

Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor
Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor

Tickets from the Chautauqua Box office.

 

Boulder Phil’s Season of ‘Legends’ Opens Strongly

By Peter Alexander

From the Arctic tundra to the Arabian sea, the Boulder Philharmonic opened their 2014-15 season in Macky Auditorium with a strong performance of a strong program.

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Michael Butterman, Music Director of the Boulder Philharmonic

Music Director Michael Butterman led the orchestra in the world premiere of Gates of the Arctic by Stephen Lias; the Second Piano Concerto of Camille Saint-Saëns with soloist Gabriela Martinez; and Scheherazade by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which gave the orchestra the opportunity to introduce new concertmaster Charles Wetherbee.

Speaking before the performance, Butterman explained that this is the orchestra’s season of “Legends,” featuring pieces that tell stories drawn from a variety of myths and legends. I have frequently enjoyed Butterman’s programming, and this concert, combining a provocative and intriguing new piece, a highly interesting soloist playing repertoire beyond the usual warhorses, and a virtuoso orchestra showpiece, hit all the right notes for a season opener.

Gates of the Arctic is an unabashedly programmatic piece that describes Lias’ 2012 residency in Gates of the Arctic National Park. He backpacked with a ranger within the park—which is entirely wilderness, without a visitor’s center or even a single road within its boundaries—for 10 days, following a caribou migration. In performance, the music was closely coordinated with photos of the park, some taken by Lias.

Stephen Lias in Gates of the Arctic National Park

Stephen Lias backpacking in Gates of the Arctic National Park

In addition to being visually spectacular, the photos left no doubt what was being portrayed in the music, from the long hours of trekking with a heavy backpack, to sightings of caribou, bears and wolves, and finally a placid lake that mirrored the spectacular mountains in the park. Gates of the Arctic is thoroughly entertaining, especially with the photographic accompaniment. But it is also a well crafted and skillfully designed piece that features strong contrasts and great musical drama, woven into an effective orchestral score.

Some of my more curmudgeonly composer friends might ask, “but is it great music?” In answer I would say, Bach, Mozart and Verdi didn’t sit down to write “great music.” They sat down to write music for their audiences, much of it purely for entertainment. Time will tell us if Lias’ music survives our generation, but it is music that clearly reached the Boulder audience, who gave it a standing ovation.

Gabriela Martinez

Gabriela Martinez

The Saint-Saëns concerto is a piece that comes much more alive in performance than in any recording. Martinez, a Venezuelan who has performed with the famed Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and is now being championed by superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel, was especially convincing in the free, fantasy-like opening movement. I especially liked her dynamic control, and the sense of spontaneity and freedom that she conveyed. Her sparkling runs and bounding arpeggios showed full technical command in the remaining movements, but the piano sound seemed underpowered at times—perhaps a victim of Macky’s inhospitable acoustics?

Charles Wetherbee

Charles Wetherbee

Another piece of program music, Scheherazade is always an audience pleaser—as it was for Butterman and the Boulder Phil. Wetherbee played the extensive violin solos with a sweetness and purity of tone that was exemplary. The solos in the cello and the wind sections were all well played, although coordination between players in the back of Macky’s deep stage and those in front was at times a little rocky.

Tricky acoustics aside, Butterman led a carefully modulated performance. The Boulder Phil strings cannot provide the sound that we hear on recordings by the Philadelphia and other orchestras with 60-plus players in the string sections and more hospitable acoustics, but the orchestra made effective work of all the big moments in the score, once again compelling the audience to their feet. It was, in the end, a satisfying performance of a much-loved piece.

Like Sinbad’s ship, the Boulder Philharmonic is well launched on a season that will feature many “Legends” and other stories in music. Let’s hope that the storm at sea where “The Ship Goes to Pieces on a Rock” remains confined to Rimsky-Korsakov’s evocative score.

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Author’s Note: I do not plan on reviewing every concert that I preview here, or every one that is worthy of such coverage. But as the beginning of a new season by one of Boulder’s older musical institutions, and with a world premiere, this concert perhaps earned a little more attention—especially since I and the audience enjoyed it so much.

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This post has been edited to correct grammar and typos.