Carolina Philharmonic Begins Year With 'Late Romantics'
By Frank Giordano
Special to The Pilot
The term "Romanticism" has become so bloated with meanings and signifies so many diverse characteristics that, for many critics, it lacks a central core.
Originally used to describe the artistic, literary and intellectual movements of the latter decades of the 18th century in Europe - particularly the reaction to the Industrial Revolution - in the arts the term referred to the revolt against social and political norms of the Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.
Of chief interest to many great artists, poets and musicians of the era was the tendency to elevate the truths of the heart over those of the head, to celebrate mankind's passionate emotions over his cold reasoning.
For their first chamber music performance of 2013, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, in the Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College, Maestro David Michael Wolff and some members of his Carolina Philharmonic will present "The Late Romantics."
Accompanied by cellist Nate Leyland and violinist Megan Kenny, Wolff will offer a diverse program of chamber pieces by composers from Johannes Brahms to Dmitri Shostakovich. In addition, soprano Young Mee Jun will perform two lieder of Richard Strauss.
Johannes Brahms was the great master of symphonic and sonata style in the second half of the 19th century. A true Romantic hero in his own life, Brahms was a "common man" who emerged from the lower classes by virtue of his musical talents. Already an accomplished musician as a teenager, Brahms used his talent to earn money at local inns, in brothels and along Hamburg's docks, to ease his family's often tight financial conditions.
Celebrating the folk art of native peoples, he composed many Hungarian dances and other popular works, such as waltzes and songs. His "Cello Sonata No. 2, Opus 99," is among the works that earned him praise in his youth as a "genius" and, at his death, burial beside Beethoven and Schubert.
For many creative artists in the Romantic era, literature and painting and music were considered "sister arts." In Germany especially, the 19th century was the great age of song. Mozart and Beethoven had composed songs for voice and keyboard previously, but with the flowering of German literature in the Romantic era, composers took their inspiration from poetry - especially pastoral themes and romantic love - to create the important and lasting musical genre known as the lied. With Franz Schubert, this tradition culminates with a new balance between words and music, as the sense of the words is absorbed into the music.
Among those who followed Schubert in this tradition of blending the arts together, making a new creation out of poetry and music, was Richard Strauss. Typically, a solo voice performs a Romantic melody to piano accompaniment. For this program, Young Mee Jun will join her pianist husband to present two of Strauss' touching lieder.
After intermission, Wolff and company will present the challenging "Trio No. 2" by Dmitri Shostakovich, the latest of the Romantics on the evening's program.
A Russian composer and pianist, Shostakovich is a prominent figure of 20th century music. His second piano trio represented Shostakovich's horror at contemporary events: Written during World War II and actually using a Jewish melody, the grim, highly dissonant masterpiece is a disguised tribute to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The first movement has been described as "a mad fugue, requiring incredible amounts of technical prowess from all three instruments."
Tickets are $25 for general admission, $40 for reserved seats and $10 for students, and are available at www. carolinaphil.org or (910) 687-4746.
More like this story