GUNTHER SCHULLER Dreamscape
was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the 75th anniversary of
Tanglewood, where Schuller led the premiere in 2012 with the Tanglewood Music
Center Orchestra. According to the composer, this brief, scintillatingly
colorful, symphony-like work came to him wholly in a dream in remarkable detail—hence
its title. Its personal aspects and use of quotation also make it a neat
companion for Richard Strauss’s novelistic tone poem Ein Heldenleben, which closes this program.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Piano Concerto
No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Mozart made the genre of the
piano concerto uniquely his own, one in which he could simultaneously exhibit
his talent as both composer and performer. He premiered his autumnal last
concerto—No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595, from 1791, the year of his death—not
in a concert of his own, however, but in one given by the distinguished
clarinetist Joseph Bähr; it was the final concert appearance of Mozart’s life. K.
595 is a work of symphonic scope and scale, with touches of pathos tingeing its
warm and engaging personality.
RICHARD STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben (A Heroic
Life), Op. 40
Strauss completed EinHeldenleben
in 1898 as the culmination of his series of immensely accomplished, innovative
tone poems (symphonic works based on an explicit narrative idea) composed
during the previous decade, including Don
Juan, Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegel lustige Streiche, Also sprach Zarathustra, and Don Quixote, all of which remain solidly
in the orchestral repertoire. Ein
Heldenleben is apparently a musical self-portrait—somewhat tongue-in-cheek,
but serious and substantial in the breadth of its content and the sheer
virtuosity of its treatment of the orchestra. Cast in several episodes, the
piece finds its protagonist battling his critics, sharing blissful time with
his wife, reminiscing about his “works for peace”—in an extended passage quoting
from Strauss’s earlier music—and finally removing himself from worldly care.