SASO 2012-13 Opening Concert: Part II

Beethoven and Tchaikovsky on the same program, what more could a music lover ask! The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra conducted by Linus Lerner, will perform the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 on the season’s opening concerts,October 6 & 7. Both composed great works for orchestra that please audiences and musicians alike. Where Beethoven is the father of the romantic school,Tchaikovsky along with Mahler and Rachmaninoff, finalize this modus operandi.

SASO will perform Mahler and Rachmaninoff later this season. Comparison of the two composer’s personalities are divergent to the extreme. Where Beethoven is self-assured, dynamic and has no doubts of his abilities and greatness, Tchaikovsky is just the opposite being neurotic, lacks self confidence and is not assertive. Both men had outstanding teachers but Beethoven was always pushing the bar and transcending into new areas of composition. Tchaikovsky basically added his Russian touch to the romantic symphonic form. The Beethoven work will be discussed in another article.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the greatest melodist ever and while he lacked some areas of composition such as counterpoint, he made up for it with key variations, scales, dramatic use of loud and soft, rubato manipulation of tempi, and use of mood and emotion. Tchaikovsky, as all other symphonists learned, followed in the footsteps of the nine symphonies of Beethoven. The overall design of his Symphony No. 5 is very similar to Beethoven’s 5th by moving from tragic(minor keys) to jubilant or triumphant(major keys) with a rousing finale. The Symphony was composed and premiered in 1888 in St. Petersburg with the composer conducting. The audience judged it acceptable but it was thumbs down by critics. Although the work is considered his greatest symphony today, it languished until after his death in 1893.

The 46 minute work is mostly in sonata form, has 4 movements, and is cyclical in that themes are repeated throughout the mvts. The First movement is slow then fast. It opens with a Slavic melancholy theme in low clarinet introduction. Sonata form starts in measure 38 in a fast 2 time, there is an exposition of 3 themes, development, recapitulation and a coda ending. Movement II has two of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful and well known themes. The first played by horn and the second by oboe. There is great variety in tempo and mood.

A graceful waltz based on an Italian street song opens Movement III. It is in ABA form with a scherzo as theme B. Movement IV opens with the slow introductory theme of Mvt. I but in full strings which is followed by a timpani crescendo into a fast march. There are 3 themes and the final coda is a dramatic march followed by a presto and 20 measure slow dramatic ending.

The October 6 concert will be performed at Desert View Performing Arts Auditorium in SaddleBrooke at 7:30 PM and on October 7 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Oro Valley at 3:00 PM For ticket or other information go

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