Music Director Stephen Simon took to the podium on Saturday, March 31, to direct the Simon Sinfonietta in yet another bold and imaginative program of classical music. The performance came on the heels of the Sinfonietta’s successful February concert, reviewed in the Cape Cod Times by musician-critic W. Henry Duckham as “an exceptional and riveting evening of music.” (Please click here for the entire article: Simon Sinfonietta Concert Review by W. Henry Duckham.) Featured in the March concert were four major works from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries – each from a composer who moved beyond his contemporaries to create innovative works of historical importance. The concert was performed at Falmouth Academy in Falmouth, MA.
The concert’s first piece was Symphony No. 5 in D major of William Boyce (1711-1779). Though Boyce is less familiar to audiences than contemporaries such as George Frideric Handel, he is acknowledged to be one of the most important British composers of the eighteenth century. Boyce composed in a style that pushes beyond the forms of his musical predecessors. His symphonies embody the melodic simplicity and open contrapuntal style of the Baroque, yet also hint of the Classical symphonic forms that arrived on the Continent in the mid- to latter part of the century. Symphony No. 5 opened the concert in the grand English ceremonial style with trumpets and timpani to herald another exceptional evening of music with the Simon Sinfonietta.
Maestro Simon next turned the spotlight on Mark Miller(pictured above in photo by Marilyn Rowland), principal clarinetist of both the Simon Sinfonietta and the Cape Cod Symphony. Miller performed Carl Maria von Weber’s sparkling Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in E-flat major. Weber (1786-1826) composed this ground-breaking work for the clarinet in 1811. His concertino gave the relatively new instrument unprecedented prominence in a major work, displaying in the process the clarinet’s great powers of expression and virtuosity. Weber’s audacity prevailed and the concertino has become a cornerstone of the classical repertoire.
In 1985, during his 26-year tenure as director of the Kennedy Center’s Washington Chamber Symphony, Maestro Stephen Simon commissioned the program’s third work for the Handel tri-centennial celebrations at the Kennedy Center. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich took for inspiration the first movement of Handel’s Violin Sonata in D major and composed Concerto Grosso 1985. In this brilliant work, Zwilich, who is regarded as one of the most popular classical composers in America today, transforms an opening thematic gambit from Handel’s sonata into a creative force for the entire five-movement work. In contrast with Zwilich’s earlier atonal compositions, Concerto Grosso 1985 is more neo-Romantic in style. It is not only inspired by Handel but also, in Zwilich’s words, “imbued with his spirit.”
Maestro Simon closed the program by moving to the Classical Period and the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), the innovative and quintessential Classical era composer often called “the Father of the Symphony.” The Simon Sinfonietta performed Haydn’s ebullient Symphony No. 104 in D major, the final symphony of Joseph Haydn and the last of the twelve London Symphonies, composed during the 1790s when Haydn made two hugely successful trips to England.
The Sinfonietta's next concert, featuring pianist Sara Daneshpour, will be held at Falmouth Academy on Saturday, June 2, at 7:30 pm. In this last concert of the season, the young Iranian-American pianist will make her Cape Cod debut with Mozart’s magnificent D minor Piano Concerto No. 20. This final concert of the season will also include Stravinsky’s spirited Symphony in C and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major,The Spring.Tickets are $40/person ($10/student). Patrons: $135 (2 tickets for one concert with name in program; $55 is tax deductible). Tickets are available by phone (508.457.9696), online at (http://www.simonsinfonietta.org), or by mail (check to "Simon Sinfonietta at FA" and mailed to Falmouth Academy, 7 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540.) MasterCard and Visa are accepted for online and phone purchases.
The Simon Sinfonietta
The Simon Sinfonietta is a chamber orchestra of approximately 40 professional members founded in 2004 by Stephen Simon, the internationally recognized conductor who directed the Kennedy Center’s Washington (D.C.) Chamber Symphony for 26 years. The Sinfonietta includes many of the finest professional musicians within the Providence-Boston-Cape Cod triangle. Proceeds from the Sinfonietta’s performances benefit Falmouth Academy, Historic Highfield, and the Cape and Islands NPR® Station WCAI.