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Teatro Filarmonico

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Stravinsky Ebony Concerto

Stravinsky Ebony Concerto

The stunning Teatro Filarmonico in Verona is the venue for Igor Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto with a varied programme also featuring the music of Richard Wagner, Arnold Schoenberg and Leonard Bernstein. This concert blends nineteenth and twentieth-century music focusing on some of the more complex harmonies that these composers are often noted for, in particular, Stravinsky's use of jazz-influenced, blues-style tones. Stravinsky wrote Ebony Concerto in 1945 and the piece subsequently premiered on 26 March 1946 in Carnegie Hall in New York City, performed by Woody Herman's band under the baton of Walter Hendl.

The concert, performed by the Fondazione Arena di Verona's orchestra, opens with Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, WWV 103. A symphonic poem for chamber orchestra, this piece was first performed on Christmas Day in 1870 at the composer's home near Lucerne in Switzerland. Later, Wagner would use some of the ideas in Siegfried Idyll for his epic Nibelungen Ring cycle. The programme continues with a rendition of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9 which is also known by its German title, Kammersymphonie für 15 Soloinstrumente. The premiere of the Austrian composer's first chamber symphony was performed by the Ensemble der Bläservereinigung des Wiener Hofopernorchesters, consisting of a wind ensemble of the Vienna Court Opera alongside the prestigious Rosé Quartet, on 8 February 1907 at Vienna's Musikverein. Chamber Symphony No. 1 is a noteworthy example of a quartal harmony composition which builds harmonic structures from fourth intervals - perfect, augmented and diminished.

The concert turns to the music of Stravinsky next, the Russian-born composer who spent much of his later life as a US citizen. A rendition of his Monumentum pro Gesualdo da Venosa ad CD annum follows, an arrangement Stravinsky made of three madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo, an Italian composer born in Venosa in 1566. The premiere of this piece took place on 27 September 1960 at the Venice Biennale, performed by the Orchestra del Teatro la Fenice. The featured concerto, Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto for clarinet and jazz band, then follows. The concert's finale is a piece by Bernstein, Prelude, Fugue and Riffs also arranged for a clarinet with accompaniment from a jazz ensemble. Its premiere was televised from New York on 16 October 1955 as a part of the composer's show, The World of Jazz.

With five such carefully curated pieces of music that, when performed together, offer insights into the various composers' styles and influences on one another, Stravinsky Ebony Concerto by the Arena di Verona orchestra at the Teatro Filarmonico will undoubtedly fascinate audience members.

image Teatro Filarmonico Verona / Per gentile concessione Fondazione Arena di Verona / Foto Gilles Alonso