On Saturday, February 8, 2020, The Columbia Orchestra, Jason Love, Conductor, presented “Inna Faliks Plays Mozart” at the Jim Rouse Theatre, Wilde Lake High School, Columbia, MD.
Faliks is a Ukrainian-born American and has made “a name for herself through her commanding performances of standard piano repertoire, as well as genre-bending interdisciplinary projects, and inquisitive work with contemporary composers.” Faliks is presently Professor of Piano and Head of Piano at UCLA. She has given thousands of recitals worldwide.
Faliks captured the complexity of this piece on her piano as she deftly moved her long delicate fingers across the keyboard, never missing the nuances of the composer.
The orchestra began with “Les Trois Rois Noirs (The Three Black Kings), Ballet for Orchestra” written in 1974 by Edward K. (“Duke”) Ellington which premiered in New York in 1976 at the Alvin Ailey Ballet. It was written as an elegy for Marin Luther King, Jr. Ellington was inspired by a stained-glass window at Cathedral del Mar in Barcelona in 1970. Ellington actually died before he finished the Ballet, leaving the ending to be done by his son Mercer.
The first movement is “King of the Magi” and Mideastern rhythms and melodies recreate the sounds of the Magi on their travels to Bethlehem. The second movement “King Solomon” has its roots in the “Song of Solomon” with many lush and romantic touches to help envision the ancient Biblical king. There is even a touch of Bossa Nova. The last movement called “Martin Luther King,” and it incorporates a feeling of gospel with New Orleans funeral marches through the use of a simple tambourine throughout. In “Three Black Kings” Ellington once again proved he was more than just a jazz musician or a big band leader. His ability to write complex symphonic music is comparable to Copeland and Gershwin. The CO pulls us into the piece and takes us into the multi-levels of the music.
From the 20th Century music of Ellington, we went to the 18th Century music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with his “Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466” which was composed in 1785 when it premiered with Mozart at the piano in Vienna. It is only one of two piano concerti Mozart wrote in a minor key. It has been said that that Mozart had the ending still unwritten when he sat down to play much to the consternation of his concertmaster. The work was revered by Beethoven. It is not the lighter music of Mozart but has a more somber feel. Instead of the sonata, we hear motifs that together form the theme of the piece which we hear in the first movement “Allegro.” In the next movement “Romanze” we hear one of Mozart’s experiments- a rondo (round). The finale “Rondo, Allegro assai” is also a round with a big flourish at the end. Faliks captured the complexity of this piece on her piano as she deftly moved her long delicate fingers across the keyboard, never missing the nuances of the composer. She was most ably backed by the fine orchestra.
The final piece after intermission was “Concerto for Orchestra” by Béla Bartók. I must admit I have never been a big fan of his, but this was one of his more popular works. Like Ellington, he wrote this at the end of his life. The mystery of the piece is why he called it a concerto when there are really no soloists. The opening movement, “Inroduzione, Andante non-troppo – Allegro vivace” has a nocturnal feel with instruments interpreting the sounds of insects in the night. In it, Bartók uses a masculine theme exemplified by the strings, trombone and other brass. The counter feminine theme is played by oboes and harp. In the second movement, we hear the same instruments playing in the same melody written between one and seven notes apart which created a very weird effect. The third movement “Elegia. Andante non-troppo” conveys the composer’s unhappiness. However, the next movement, “Intermezzo interrott, Allegretto” has some optimism and a possible tribute to Shostakovich’s “Seventh Symphony.” The “Finale: Presto” can prove most difficult for any orchestra as there are literally thousands of notes that are played in the seven-minute movement. Under Love’s direction, CO reflected Bartók’s emotions and deliver a most convincing performance. If anyone missed a note in the fast and furious ending, which I did enjoy, it was undetected
Once again, the Columbia Orchestra brought fine and exciting music to the Rouse Auditorium. It is hard to remember that the group is not professional. The playing of Inna Faliks added to a most memorable night of wonderful sounds.
Running Time: Two hours and 10 minutes with an Intermission.
The Columbia Orchestra will be performing “Symphonic Pops” on March 14 and 15, 2020 and don’t miss their “Young People’s Concert: Peter and the Wolf” on March 28, 2020. Join them for their “Music and Brunch” to help support this fine orchestra on April 19, 2020. For information on these programs and others go to their website.