Alumni and University Choruses | Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra | Christian Baldini, music director
Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens
Hubert Parry (1848–1918) is an oft-overlooked English composer of the Romantic era. Parry absorbed musical influence from both Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner, and managed to filter a distinctly English style through these influences in Blest Pair of Sirens, a choral setting of John Milton’s At a solemn Musick. Through careful word painting, Parry musically highlights salient emotional moments of the poem. The result of pairing his stately and solemn musical setting with Milton’s heartfelt, triumphant poetry is the quintessential ode to heavenly ascension.
Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem
with Mary Wilson, soprano, and Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Johannes Brahms (1833–97) composed the Requiem between 1865 and 1868, almost certainly in the wake of his mother’s death. As with the requiems of Mozart and Verdi, the Brahms Requiem is a sacred piece that stands on its own in concert. Brahms opted to use Luther’s German bible texts rather than Latin texts. Not only is the work a testament to Brahms’s sense of meticulous, creative craftsmanship—which is reflected, for example, in the first movement’s lack of violins—but it is also a testament to the notion that the living need comfort in the midst of the dead or dying.
Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904), a successor to the Czech nationalist Bedřich Smetana, popularized the Czech idiom that Smetana had begun to cultivate. Dvořák’s affinity for grand, colorful treatments of folk tunes as well as a profoundly religious outlook on life provided grounding for his own idiosyncratic style. Syncopated, dancelike rhythms, as well as healthy percussive accents and a fiery finale proudly evoke an unforgettable opening for any concert.
Schumann: Cello Concerto
with Richard Andaya, cello
Robert Schumann stretches the expressive capability of the soloist performer in this piece by demanding the portrayal multitude of contrasting characters. The three attacca (played continuously without pauses in between) movements develop an increasingly complex dialogue between soloist and accompaniment. After the first movement showcases the soloist’s expressive capabilities, the spare and songlike second movement begins, accented by an undercurrent of pizzicato strings, transitioning seamlessly into the gregarious third movement, which most audibly sounds like a dialogue as the orchestral accompaniment makes musical commentary on the soloist’s jovial melodic statements.
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major
with Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano
The first listening of any of Gustav Mahler’s (1860–1911) symphonies immerses the listener in a complex aural narrative, diligently masterminded by a virtuoso of orchestration and boundary-pushing harmony. Mahler’s Fourth Symphony is his shortest and perhaps most joyful, but is not without his epic aesthetic and scale. The finale features a soprano soloist, who sings of an ideal picture of heaven, exuberantly ornamented by the orchestra.
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Winner of the UC Davis Concerto Competition
Edgard Varèse (1883–1965) explored the limits and functions of timbre in his avant-garde compositions. His compositional narratives often were composed of sound masses (deliberately orchestrated groups of timbres) that interact with each other, skirting, grazing each other, or colliding violently. Rhythmic complexity, extreme dynamic range, and unbridled timbral variety render his pieces unpredictable portraits of life’s inherent entropy.
Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F Major
Johannes Brahms’s Third Symphony may be his shortest and most compact of his four symphonies, but still encapsulates his effortless-sounding compositional style. The simple opening motive governs the musical material of the first movement. Brahms’s ability to spin music out of the simplest of materials is the impetus for the musical progression of this symphony, which can be heard and felt in the inner movements. The finale begins with a mysterious melody, with woodwinds and strings weaving in and out of each other, culminating into a hushed and yet focused conclusion.