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Bach to Brahms

February 6, 2021

Emely Phelps, Piano

No, it's not Phantom of the Opera!, but Bach's epic Toccata and Fugue in d minor is one of the most recognized works of all time, made especially famous in the original Fantasia movie. Pianist Emely Phelps brings power and poise to the stage with Brahms' majestic and poignant Piano Concerto No. 2.

Ticket info to come.

Program

Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.........J.S. Bach/Stokowski
 
Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 186a/201 ......Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
     I. Allegro moderato 
    II. Andante
    III. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio
    IV. Allegro con spirito 
 
INTERMISSION

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major, Op. 83..........................Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
    I. Allegro non troppo
   II. Allegro appassionato 
  III. Andante
  IV. Allegretto grazioso - un poco piu presto
                                          Emely Phelps, piano 
 
 

Program Notes

Almost two centuries after J.S. Bach composed the Toccata and Fugue in d minor for organ, another spirited young man, the then 20 year old Leopold Stokowski, accepted a position as an organist and St. James in Piccadily Square in London.  When Stokowski then turned to conducting, launching one of the most illustrious careers of the 20th Century, he also began making orchestral transcriptions of works for other instruments. His orchestral arrangement of his favorite piece of all time, Bach's Toccata in d, became an audience favorite as well, and it was at Stokowski's insistence that it was included as the opening piece in Walt Disney's film Fantasia, which has made it so well-known today.

Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A majorK. 201/186a, is one of his better known early symphonies.  He wrote 41 symphonies in all, with his last and "named" ones such as Haffner and Jupiter, being some of the most famous, and his No. 40 in g minor, being perhaps the most famous and iconic of his symphonic output.   The work combines the intimacy of chamber music with a purely classical style, form and orchestral language.  It embodies refinement.  

If one ever wonders about Johannes Brahms' wit or personality, look no further than his message to Clara Schumann about his second piano concerto.  He said of it, ""I want to tell you that I have written a very small piano concerto with a very small and pretty scherzo."  This work, for full orchestra and with a length of 44 minutes, is many things, but small is not one of them.  Twenty two years separate its composition from that of his first piano concerto.  It took him three years to complete.  Musically and texturally it is like a symphony for the orchestra and a symphonic workout for the pianist, combined into one.  The nuances and "Brahmsian" techniques are extraordinary and vintage Brahms.  Melodies that define a sense of longing and nostalgia permeate the work, from the opening solo horn line, to the famous cello solo of the slow movement.  It is, by every definition, monumental.