Benjamin Britten

Simple Symphony

Hannah Lash

Piano Concerto (world premiere)

Jeremy Denk, piano
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Igor Stravinsky

Dumbarton Oaks

In 1938, the American diplomat Robert Woods Bliss marked his thirtieth wedding anniversary by commissioning a new work from Igor Stravinsky. Bliss and his wife, Mildred, hosted the premiere in the lavish music room of their house in Georgetown, an upscale neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The property, dubbed Dumbarton Oaks, provided the lasting nickname for Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat for Chamber Orchestra. The composer was ill and unable to attend the May 8 premier performance, but he arranged for Nadia Boulanger (the legendary teacher of composers ranging from Aaron Copland to Philip Glass) to conduct in his place.

The “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto is a quintessential product of Stravinsky’s thirty-year fascination with “neoclassical” style—although, in purely musical terms, it would be more apt to label the score “neo-Baroque.” The orchestration, which calls out soloists from among the small ensemble, reflects the Baroque concerto grosso tradition, especially the diverse solo groups found in Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concertos; further proof of the Baroque inspiration comes in the first movement, when the violas launch into a formal fugato section. Having the violins and violas divided into three parts each (and omitting second violins) draws a clear parallel with Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3, although the application here is quite different; Bach’s divisi often thickens and enunciates a line, whereas Stravinsky’s separation of voices promotes diffuse, airy textures, such as the churning accompaniment under a bird-like flute solo in the second movement. The energetic finale concludes this modern “Brandenburg” with pulsing beats and shifting accents, an unmistakable Stravinsky sound in any phase of his career.

Aaron Grad ©2013

Jeremy Kittel

Big Fiddle

Teddy Abrams

Fiddling for Strings and Piano

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Jeremy Denk, piano

Aaron Copland

“Hoe Down” from Rodeo

About This Program

SPCO Artistic Partner Jeremy Denk returns for the world premiere of a piano concerto by composer Hannah Lash. Conductor Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra, makes his SPCO debut with a convivial program of SPCO favorites by Benjamin Britten and Igor Stravinsky, together with a set of works inspired by folk fiddling which are sure to get your feet tapping!