Sunday, March 04, 2012

Haydn, Handel, Hovhaness—and More Paganini—with the Humboldt Symphony

On Saturday and Sunday (March 3 and 4), the Humboldt Symphony performs Variations on a Theme by Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, featuring the winner of this year’s student piano concerto competition, Joseph Welnick.

This work by 20th century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski is one of many by various composers based on Caprice No. 24 by the 19th century Italian violin virtuoso, Nicolo Paganini. HSU audiences can hear internationally renowned violinist Bin Huang play that original Caprice No. 24 on the preceding Friday.

Humboldt Symphony conductor Paul Cummings describes these variations as “high energy, rhythmic and exciting.” He notes that in his extensive piano solo playing, “Joe Welnick has a wonderful command of this music, both technically and expressively.”

The Symphony also performs a concerto for strings by G. F. Handel (“a great example of classic Baroque,” Cummings said) and the first and third movements of Haydn’s London Symphony, No. 104. “It’s his last published symphony, and by far his most frequently performed. It’s in the style of Mozart and early Beethoven.”

But the Symphony’s final selection is off the beaten track: Tower Music by contemporary Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness. This piece for wind instruments “has a serene quality,” Cummings said. “Hovhaness has been accused of writing New Age music, and it’s true that he’s highly influenced by eastern musical forms. This piece is based on Armenian folk melodies, and is very expressive and beautiful, but also not predictable. That may be why he’s slowly getting a following.”

Humboldt Symphony performs on Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets are $7/$3, free to HSU students, from the HSU Box Office (826-3928) or at the door. Conducted by Paul Cummings, produced by the HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, KHSU

Humboldt Symphony Program

Concerto Grosso opus 6 #1 : G.F. Handel

Paganini Variations for Piano Solo and Orchestra : Witold Lutoslawski (1978)

Symphony 104 ("London") Movements 1 and 3: Joseph Haydn

Tower Music for Woodwind and Brass Instruments : Alan Hovhaness

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