Mozart’s opera of lust, betrayal and revenge is prefaced by one of the most dramatic overtures ever written. The weighty brass chords of the opening serve notice that judgement is certain, before launching into music as lively as the society it was written for.
Michael Norris’ Violin Concerto embarks on a journey through different energies, emotional states and relationships between the soloist and the orchestra. At times the violin floats above the orchestra; at other times, it leads the charge in passages of flurrying virtuosity.
Dvořák’s last symphony, From the New World, is a product of the years between 1892 and 1894 when Dvořák left Bohemia to become the director of New York’s National Conservatory. He toured around the Midwest, observing the people, landscapes and music. In Spillville, a town of Bohemian immigrants in Iowa, he finished this symphony, which celebrates the energy of the “new world” he found himself in, and reflects his yearning for home.
The adagio opening leads quickly to a dramatic theme announced by the horns; the woodwinds respond with a light reply. The most famous melody in the symphony is the cor anglais solo that begins and ends the slow movement. The tune shows how Dvořák was inspired by the African-American music he heard, particularly the spirituals.
In the scherzo, Dvořák sets the boisterous folk dance rhythms of his homeland against a more relaxed tune suggesting wagon trains traversing the wide landscapes, “home on the range”. The Finale begins with a call for action in the brass and proceeds with even more wonderful new themes.