October 6 marks the start of the season with a synthesis of American, English, and French music. Begining with Elgar's Sospiri (a replacement for Brahams' regal Academic Festival Overture as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks) and ending with Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnole, the concert promises to be a consistent musical adventure, a good concert to begin the season.
November's concert is a blend of Russian music, and the audience will notice a marked difference in the two Prokofiev pieces the symphony will perform. First, his Classical Symphony combines Russian nationalism and modern styling with the rules of classical technique. Conversely, his Piano Concerto No. 2 is dazzling, and a good example of Prokofiev's Soviet- and Russian-inspired preferences. Ending the concert is Rachmaninov's mammoth Symphony No. 3, which explores raw nationalism and rightly brings the two Prokofiev pieces home to their Russian foundations. Interestingly, the Third Symphony is scored for epic orchestral forces: triple wind, brass, and percussion, two harps, and a xylophone. Given the limitations of the Adler Stage and the QCSO, it will be interesting to see if the orchestra can capture the robustness of the piece.
Antonin Dvorak's impassioned, Czech-inspired Cello Concerto highlights the December concert. Written immediately after his stay in America, Dvorak blessed the world with perhaps the most expressive cello concerto in all of music. Additionally, Vaughn Williams' London Symphony is one of the finest musical paintings in the classical repertoire.
The QCSO February concert is dominated by Mahler's often-neglected Fourth Symphony. Although Mahler is known as a bleak, tragic composer, his Fourth Symphony is an angelic, wistful musical experience. Despite its "sunny" offerings, the piece is still Mahlerian in length, reaching nearly an hour long. This concert might test the endurance of the QCSO concertgoer, but if minds are left open, it could be the best concert of the year.
Trombonist Christian Lindberg takes the stage in March in what is probably the least mainstream concert of the season. Propping the unique trombone pieces and Alfven's Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 is Beethoven's Symphony No. 4.
The season doesn't end with a towering staple of the symphonic or sacred catalog, but with a cobbled-together April program of Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and Mozart.
In addition to the regular symphony concerts, for a second year the season will be interspersed with three chamber concerts, starting in late October. Utilizing the intimacy of venues such as the Outing Club and the superb principal players in the QCSO, each chamber concert will be an opportunity to try something new. The always-popular Holiday Pops concert is slated for November 17.
Only a few of this year's concerts are must-hears: November's all-Russian spectacular, December's Dvorak and Vaughn Williams affair, and February's Mahler immersion. No doubt, the March concert will contain hidden treasures despite its unusual trombone pieces. The bookends of the season are neither spectacular nor deplorable; they should well-performed concerts that play to the strengths of the QCSO, bookends to a library of musical gems.
For more information on this season's concerts, visit (http://www.qcsymphony.com).