The second concert begins with one of the world’s most irresistible concert-openers. The Marriage of Figaro almost literally knocked all of Europe on its ear when it was first produced, and the great overture, one of the most infectious, utterly irresistible pieces of music ever conceived, became an instant constant staple. It has never lost its place in the repertory.
The Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber is the most popular violin concerto ever written by an American composer, and deservedly so. Its dominant note is one of nostalgic, wistful reverie, until breathtaking virtuosity is unleashed in the last movement – a sort of hoedown, perhaps, as idealized by a city slicker. The soloist is Max Tan, one of the amazing players in the Youth Orchestra’s phenomenal string section.
After intermission comes the huge, kaleidoscopic Fifth Symphony of Mahler. This work has always been a special favorite of Mr. Zander’s. Its five movements limn a drama of vast scope and urgency, a kind of tragedy in reverse. It starts in brooding, despair, and death, moves through great anguish, outlandish satire, and the ineffable love-drenched musings of the famous Adagietto, to arrive at a solid, joy-filled, feet-on-the-ground place of optimism and hope. It ends, in fact, with the traditional ending of comedy, a marriage – in this case the marriage of Mahler himself to his beloved Alma. The range of emotion in this work is staggering, and the piece is of such technical complexity that it is a formidable undertaking for even the world’s greatest orchestras. We are sure that the experience of this work will be unforgettable for players and audience alike.