Classical music boosts listeners' brain functions and energy levels, which is why every child should ingest a well-rounded harpsichord each morning. Treat your noggin to a mellifluous meal with this GrouponLive deal to see Tucson Symphony Orchestra presents The Four Seasons at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. For $25, you get one ticket for general-admission seating in the rear of the hall on Friday, January 11, at 7:30 p.m. (up to a $50 value). Doors open at 6 p.m. with an optional preconcert chat with the conductor beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Under the baton of guest conductor Michael Hall, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra pays tribute to the seasons twice with a doubleheader of four-part works. One of the Baroque period's great masterpieces, Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons opens the program with a quartet of violin concertos that bring to life the emotions of the year. Each chapter represents a different season with brilliantly evocative melodies such as the torrential storm of "Summer," created by furious cello tremolos and freefalling violin scales. Conversely, the middle movement, "Winter," tucks the world beneath a blanket with delicate pizzicato, glittering like ice in the sun while a violin solo languidly swims above with the peace of a hushed, snowy morning.
After Vivaldi, the symphony jumps to the 20th-century stylings of Argentine tango master Ástor Piazzolla and his The Four Seasons of Bueno Aires. Part tribute to Vivaldi, part avant-garde exercise in composition, the work builds upon the regular, syncopated beat of traditional tango music, with the seasons breaking into violin solos and discordant harmonies. The virtuoso violin parts come to the fore in the second movement, which opens with a quick bass scale before the violin's melody wears itself out with manic, off-tempo ramblings and then settles into barely audible squeaks akin to those of a mouse who isn’t sure if anyone's even listening anymore.
Behind the Music
Originally trained on the bandonéon—a type of Argentine accordion—Ástor Piazzolla rose through the ranks of Buenos Aires's tango bands, eventually becoming an arranger for his ensemble leaders. Impressed with his skill, pianist Arthur Rubinstein recommended he take formal composition lessons, a path that eventually led him to study with renowned French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. According to Piazzolla's telling of the story in the program notes, his first meeting with Boulanger went terribly, as she read his classical pieces with an icy lack of response. Finally despairing, he decided to play a tango of his, and, in his words, "She suddenly opened her eyes, took my hand and told me: 'You idiot, that's Piazzolla!'" Never looking back, he dedicated himself to tango and became one of the form's most influential masters.
Winner of the 2008 Sphinx Competition, youthful violinist Danielle Belén brings fiery life to the evening with her 1709 Alessandro Gagliano instrument, on loan from the Mandell Collection until Alessandro Gagliano's vengeful ghost escapes its tomb.
Concertgoers are welcome to attend a preconcert lecture beginning at 6:30 p.m., during which Hall elucidates the finer points of the evening's program and makes ensemble members tell an embarrassing story about middle school.