The California Symphony kicks off 2019 with two performances of A TANGO WITH MOZART at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8pm and Sunday, Jan. 20 at 4pm. Music Director Donato Cabrera leads a free, 30-minute pre-concert talk for ticketholders, starting an hour before each show.
In selecting the music for this program, Music Director Donato Cabrera explains that all three pieces are a nod to the past: “In the case of Le Tombeau de Couperin, each movement was written in remembrance of a friend that Ravel lost during World War I. For Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, these pieces are a reflection of not only Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Piazzolla’s Seasons even follow the same structure of movements as Vivaldi - fast/slow/fast) but also are a reflection of the tango and its importance and relationship to the city of Buenos Aires. And the Mozart symphony is the first of his three last symphonies that are influenced by Mozart’s fascination with the music of J. S. Bach and the dance forms that were popular during the Baroque era.”
Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 was written with break-neck speed in June of 1788, right before No. 40 which was delivered in July, and No. 41—his final symphony—in August. After the death of his father in 1787, Mozart’s correspondence (our primary source of information) becomes sparse, and it is unknown whether the composer lived to hear the work performed before his premature death in 1791 at the age of 35.
Argentinian composer Piazzolla is famous for fusing tango and jazz influences in his compositions. His Four Seasons of Buenos Aires comprises works composed between 1965 and 1970, each evoking a different season, but it was the genius of Russian composer Desyatnikov that pulled it all together as a suite for solo violin with string orchestra and harpsichord, adding in familiar references to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. (And as the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, the arranger even playfully takes elements from Vivaldi’s Winter and places them in Piazzolla’s Summer.)
For Concertmaster Jennifer Cho, the concert marks a return to center stage with the California Symphony after her solo turn playing Ravel’s Tzigane in March 2017. This is her first performance as featured artist since being appointed to the role of Concertmaster in August 2017.
Of the collaboration, Cabrera says: “The first time Jenny and I performed together as soloist and conductor was with Piazzolla’s Four Seasons. We are both very excited to be returning to this masterpiece and sharing it with our Walnut Creek audience.”