A preview of DPO’s 2011-2012 season
By Pat Suarez
The Greek mythological figure Prometheus was a gutsy guy. He double-crossed Zeus and returned fire to mankind that Zeus had taken from mankind. In retaliation, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and commanded that an eagle would eat Prometheus’s liver. There’s more to this story, but Prometheus is the central topic on just one of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s concerts for its recently announced 2011-2012 season, a busy and fascinating one for our hometown symphony.
The DPO has some changes in store for its series subscribers. Normally, the DPO performs nine-concert pairs per season at the Schuster Center. For the 2011-2012 season, that number is eight. However, one cannot think of the DPO has having just an eight-week season. The number of concert weekends is actually now 12 if you include Symphony Sundaes, whose performances take place at the Masonic Auditorium. Given the repertoire at the Masonic hall, these concerts have the same musical weight as their Schuster brethren even if performed in a smaller hall.
Overall, the DPO will perform nearly four dozen concerts from the fall of 2011 through the spring of 2012. These include special events and a Philharmonic Gala on October 1, 2011.
Spread through the 12 concert sets at the Schuster and Masonic Auditorium is most of a Beethoven symphony cycle. The DPO will perform Symphonies “Two,” “Three,” “Four,” “Six” and “Eight.” To underscore the musical importance what’s going on away from the Mead Theater, Beethoven “Two,” “Three” and “Four” are at the Masonic hall. Additionally, in the first Masonic concert (November 13), the DPO will perform what could be Beethoven’s crowning achievement in his concerti output, the “Triple Concerto” for piano, violin and cello.
Back at the Schuster Center, Neal Gittleman and his orchestra have some mighty treats in store. In September, pianist Yakov Kasman is back for Rachmaninoff’s mighty “Piano Concerto #2.” After intermission, Gittleman once again offers Shostakovich, this time with the “Fifth Symphony.” Anyone who heard the maestro’s Shostakovich “Eleventh Symphony” knows how personal this composer is to Gittleman. So, this “Fifth” should be explored with profound depth and emotion.
In October, the DPO performs Schubert’s beloved “Unfinished Symphony.” The main work on this program is Prokofiev’s ballet masterpiece, “Romeo and Juliet,” with narration. This soaring, gorgeous music is a welcome addition to the DPO.
In November, we get Prometheus, minus the liver. Beethoven, Liszt and William Bolcom have all written works based on the Promethean legend and they are all represented. Beethoven’s “Eighth Symphony,” small and yet large, and tucked in between his expansive “Seventh” and “Ninth,” rounds out the program.
In January, Stella Sung’s engaging “Rockwell Reflections” (with a collection of Norman Rockwell’s paintings projected over the orchestra) join Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and Brahms’s “Piano Concerto #1.”
In March, the DPO pairs Bartók’s “Music for Strings,” “Percussion and Celesta” and Beethoven’s trip to the country, his “Sixth Symphony.” If you’re not familiar with the Bartók work, this concert should make you an instant fan. And what better way is there to welcome spring than the “Pastorale Symphony?”
In April, contrasting moods are on display with Rimsky-Korsakov’s splashy “Russian Easter Overture” and Tchaikovsky’s sober yet exciting “Pathétique Symphony.”
In May, Gittleman, the orchestra, chorus and soloists present Mahler’s sprawling “Resurrection Symphony,” continuing Gittleman’s outstanding Mahler cycle.
Over at the Masonic hall, the DPO presents four concerts. November kicks off this series with Bach’s “Suite #1” for orchestra and the aforementioned Beethoven “Triple Concerto.”
In January, the DPO performs the Brahms “Double Concerto” and Beethoven’s “Fourth Symphony.”
In February, another concerto featuring DPO orchestra principal players, Mozart’s “Flute and Harp” concerto and early Beethoven – his “Second Symphony.”
In April, Mozart’s “Haffner Symphony” and Beethoven’s massive “Third Symphony (Eroica)” close out the Masonic programs.
Perhaps no music director in the U.S. is more entertaining and informative at explaining how composers constructed their music than Neal Gittleman. This season, he rewards DPO audiences with four Classical Connections concerts that dissect music in compelling ways. First in line, in September, is Shostakovich with his “Festive Overture” and magnificent “Fifth Symphony.”
In October, Gittleman discusses and performs Prokoviev’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
In March, Bartók is on tap with his “Romanian Dances” and “Music for Strings,” “Percussion and Celesta.”
In April, the DPO takes a penetrating look at Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” and the “Sixth Symphony.”
Of particular note for Classical Connections are the “Romeo and Juliet” and Tchaikovsky “Sixth Symphony.” There’s a lot of fascinating music theory packed into both works and Neal Gittleman is just the man to open up their many secrets.
Handel’s “Messiah” returns to the Schuster Center in December, while on Halloween weekend, the DPO will provide the music for the film classic “Bride of Frankenstein.”
There are few orchestras that have DPO’s budget in the U.S. that offer so much powerhouse programming. The 2011-2012 season promises to be spectacular for its nine-month run.
Reach DCP classical music critic Patrick Suarez at email@example.com