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Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong leads a dynamic performance of operatic and symphonic treasures by Mozart and other masters. Experience the brilliant orchestral color and charm of 24-year-old Mozart’s rarely performed ballet music from his opera, Idomeneo. Then, kinetic French pianist David Fray tackles the turbulent maelstrom of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 24. Also on the program, Verdi’s powerful overture to his grand opera I vespri siciliani, and the vivacious Mediterranean postcard of Elgar’s Alassio.
At A Glance
Ballet Music from Idomeneo, K.367 1781 | 26 mins
Mozart’s tenth opera Idomeneo falls into the category of opera seria—supremely stylized, noble in character, and derived from ancient legends. Genre conventions aside, Idomeneo represents Mozart’s step into greatness as a theater composer and is musically and humanly one of his richest scores. The drama is peppered with opportunities for sheer spectacle, including the marvelous ballet music. The crowning portion is the Chaconne, a grand number that refers with considerable freedom to the old courtly dance of that name. Read More
Piano Concerto in C minor, K.491 1786 | 31 mins
The brooding darkness of this work makes it unique among Mozart’s concertos. Of course, we can depend on Mozart to temper despair with a certain measure of elegance and in so doing, he renders it all the more poignant. Mozart planned this piece “big” from its very conception, and he uses his forces to splendid effect, employing the winds (this is the only Mozart piano concerto to use both oboes and clarinets) both as soloists and as a choir to yield a fully “symphonic” texture. Read More
Overture to I vespri siciliani 1855 | 10 mins
Paris was the center of the nineteenth century opera universe, so when Verdi signed a contract with the Paris Opera in 1852 for the work that would become I vespri siciliani it was a token of arrival. By the early 1850s, Verdi was an experienced opera composer, with other notable projects (including the future mainstays Il Trovatore and La Traviata) just on the horizon. I vespri siciliani did not become a repertory classic, but it is a noble and fascinating opera. This is one of the last of Verdi’s full-dress overtures. The close is stirring in that agitated way for which Verdi alone held the recipe. Read More
In the South (Alassio) 1904 | 20 mins
1903 had been a strenuous year for Elgar, and in November he and his wife traveled to Alassio, an Italian resort about halfway between Nice and Genoa, in search of sunshine and rest. While Elgar’s spirits were clouded by dismal Italian weather, his happier impressions of the country came together to produce this concert overture of Straussian scope. Elgar often associated poetry and music, and he put several quotations into his manuscript, among them this from Tennyson’s The Daisy: “What hours were thine and mine/In lands of palm and southern pine/In lands of palm, of orange-blossom/Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.” Read More
Steven Ziegler is Managing Editor at the San Francisco Symphony.