What: Classical concert by the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra,
Enrique Arturo Diemecke, music director, Roger Wilkie, violin soloist,
music by Tchaikovsky
Where: Terrace Theater of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center,
300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
When: Saturday at 8 p.m., pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.
Information: (562) 436-3203 Ext. 1, www.lbso.org
By John Farrell
Special to the Press-Telegram
Much has changed in the world since the Long Beach Symphony last performed.
That was in the middle of November last year, just two months ago, but since then the world has passed through two months of deepening financial crisis, a new year has begun and the country has acquired a new president.
Some things don’t change, and one of those things is the power of music. This weekend a demonstration of continuity is being presented at the Terrace Theater of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center as Music Director Enrique Arturo Diemecke and the Long Beach Symphony explore the artistic permanence of music by a permanently great Russian composer in a concert called “Tchaikovsky Troika.”
The program, which begins at 8 p.m. Saturday in Long Beach, features that composer’s symphonic poem “Francesca da Rimini,” his second symphony, known as the “Little Russia,” and the overwhelming Violin Concerto, with the orchestra’s concertmaster, Roger Wilkie, as soloist.
Diemecke, who in addition to international posts is Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Flint Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, is well aware of the parlous state of music in America. “I am not an accounting specialist but I know that things are difficult right now,” Diemecke said in a phone call Tuesday morning, just after the inauguration in Washington, D.C. He was in Long Beach to begin rehearsals, after conducting the previous weekend in Flint. “I am not an accounting specialist, but I know we need more audience attendance and support to show how important music is to our lives. We need the power of music to help us heal and feel stronger. We need to distinguish what the good things are in our lives and invest in them. We need to continue looking at the arts as a way to strengthen our souls in tough times. We may be suffering but if we have a strong soul we can survive these challenges.”
Tomorrow’s concert opens with the tone poem “Francesca da Rimini,” an evocative piece based on a story from Dante’s Inferno about a young woman who falls in love with her husband’s brother, is murdered by him and ends up in perpetual torment. Written by the composer in just three weeks (he had considered the story as a possible opera) it is a passionate depiction of love and hopeless anguish.
Diemecke calls the Tchaikovsky Violin concerto “beautiful and gorgeous, a work which showcases the violinist in fireworks an in its expressiveness.” As has been his custom, Diemecke chose a member of his orchestra, concertmaster Wilkie, to be soloist in the work. It is not Wilkie’s first appearance as soloist with the orchestra, and Diemecke says he has the dazzling technique the work calls for.
The concert will conclude with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony, which is usually called the “Little Russian.” Diemecke says it should be known instead as the “Little Russia.” This symphony is based on Ukrainian folk music,” Diemecke explained, “and it isn’t a ‘little Russian’ but instead a work about ‘Little Russia,’ which is what the Russians called the Ukraine at that time. It isn’t about a person, a ‘little Russian,” but a place.
“It starts with a big horn call and continues with folk themes, dances in the second movement and a third movement that owes much to Beethoven. The fourth movement is developed as a fugue but that doesn’t stop it from being vivid and lively and powerful.”
Saturday’s concert begins at 8 p.m., and the doors to the Terrace Theater open at 6:30 p.m. There is a free half-hour pre-concert lecture by KUSC radio personality Rich Capparela starting at 7 p.m.
John Farrell is a Long Beach freelance writer. This story appeared in the Long Beach Press-Telegram Friday, January 23, 2009