October 2, 2018
Revisiting Old Friends
If you’re the type of person who seeks out unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, then this list is for you. Along with a series of new pieces this season, the Minnesota Orchestra will perform several works that are rarities here, having graced the Orchestra’s music stands only once or twice in its 115-year history. Here are a few of the highlights.
Let’s begin with a look back to a performance on March 29, 1935, at Northrop Memorial Auditorium, with Eugene Ormandy at the Orchestra’s helm. This concert opened with Jenö Hubay’s orchestration of Bach’s Chaconne from Partita No. 2, an arrangement which has not been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra since. It seems a perfect fit that Music Director Osmo Vänskä has programmed its return—after more than 80 years—for the ensemble’s upcoming performances at Northrop Auditorium in October 2018. Orchestra violinist Pamela Arnstein explains, “All of us violinists have played the great and challenging Chaconne by ourselves. I'm looking forward to hearing and playing this version.”
Another work by Bach that makes a Minnesota Orchestra return this season is his Christmas Oratorio. Last December the Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale presented the first three cantatas of this large-scale work; this December they will perform the second half to complete the oratorio. The last time these final three cantatas made their mark on the Orchestra’s audience was in 1958, and only once before that—in December 1919.
The Minnesota Chorale
Principal Cello Anthony Ross’ solo performances with the Orchestra are fan favorite concerts in Minnesota, and so are the most-familiar and beloved cello concertos by composers such as Dvořák, Elgar and Schumann. But we’re in for another treat in November when Ross performs Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto for the first time ever at Orchestra Hall. It has seen one Orchestra performance, in 1970 before the Hall was built, with then-Principal Cello Robert Jamieson and conductor Gunther Schuller.
Anthony Ross performs in the Tchaikovsky Marathon with the Minnesota Orchestra, January 2018.
The Minnesota Orchestra’s Featured Composer for the 2018-19 season is John Harbison, whose music we hear on classical and chamber programs throughout the season including a world premiere in October. On New Year’s Eve, the Orchestra performs his Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra for the first time since 1991, under the direction of Edo de Waart. Though the work was composed in 1985, it will be new to many of us at the Minnesota Orchestra. “John Harbison was one of a handful of composers whose work made me fall in love with new music,” says violist Sam Bergman, who is excited about this concert and the others this season that feature Harbison’s music.
Sergei Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony was his last, completed not long before his death on March 5, 1953. The very next season (1953-54), the then-Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra led by then-Music Director Antal Dorati performed the nostalgic symphony at Northrop Memorial Auditorium, and then subsequently took the work on tour to school auditoriums and gymnasiums across the Midwest, Connecticut and New York. The Symphony has not been played by the Orchestra since that tour, but will be heard again in March this season. “I love Prokofiev,” says bass player Matthew Frischman. “His music is some of the most innovative, colorful and influential ever written. You can’t help but to be intrigued by the sounds he could produce from an orchestra!”
Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Prokofiev's First Symphony, October 2017.