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John Frayne | Krannert Center fall 2019 season preview, Part I of III

This week, we continue previewing Krannert Center’s fall season. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and take place in Foellinger Great Hall, except as noted.

The winner of the Sinfonia da Camera Competition has been announced. She is Ella Wimbiscus, an 8-year-old cellist who studies at the Music Institute of Chicago. At the Sinfonia concert on Saturday, she will play David Popper’s “Hungarian Rhapsody, Op. 68.” Popper (1843-1913), although born in Prague, spent some of his career in Budapest. One of the greatest cellists of the 19th century, Popper’s name is well known to cellists, young and old.

On Sept. 20, the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Donald Schleicher, will perform the George Gershwin 1932 “Cuban Overture” and Jacques Ibert’s 1932-33 Concerto for Flute, with Samantha White as soloist. White gave her senior recital as a University of Illinois School of Music student in November of 2018.

The major work on the program will be Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” This work, loosely based on Jean Paul’s novel “Titan,” may be “No. 1,” but it is a mighty work, pushing toward the hour mark in performance.

This same orchestra will give its second concert of the season on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. Ottorino Respighi’s Suite No. 1 of “Ancient Airs and Dances” will be followed by Osvaldo Golijov’s “Last Round.”

This Golijov work, in memory of Astor Piazzolla, was performed last October by the combined Jupiter and Jasper quartets, with bassist Michael Cameron. (The “Round” of the title refers to boxing, not to drinks.) The balance of the program will be devoted to Johannes Brahms’ famous violin concerto, with Jinyou Lee, violin soloist, who is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at the UI with Professor Stefan Milenkovich.

The Sinfonia da Camera’s concert on Oct. 19 on Homecoming Saturday, thus called “Homecoming in the Hall,” will offer Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8. This work usually is overshadowed by Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, “From the New World,” but it is second to none in surging energy and excitement.

Led by Ian Hobson, the concert will open with Arthur Honneger’s lyric “Pastorale d’été,” his tribute to the joys of summer. The novelty on the program will be David Canfield’s “Concerto after Elgar for Viola and Orchestra.” Canfield, whose Gershwin-inspired music was performed by the Sinfonia in February 2017, models this viola concert on Sir Edward Elgar’s famous Concerto for Cello, and the Canfield work was written for the Sinfonia’s principal violist, Csaba Erdélyi.

On Oct. 23, a group of young men from Italy, performing as “Four Italian Tenors,” will salute the memory of that remarkable line of singers, from Caruso to Pavarotti. The tenors: Allesandro D’Acrissa, Federico Serra, Federico Parisi and Roberto Cresca will sing arias by Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and Leoncavallo, as well as many Italian all-time favorites. Guess what aria will climax their progam?

With the cancellation of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert last spring, due to a strike, the expectations for their Oct. 26 concert may be even higher than usual.

The concert will open with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 44 in E Minor, called the “Mourning” symphony. This work, from Haydn’s “Storm and Stress” period, derives its “Mourning” title from the story that Haydn said that he wanted the slow movement of this symphony to be played at his funeral. In fact, Mozart’s “Requiem” was then played.

Also featured will be Richard Strauss’ early tone poem, “Death and Transfiguration.” On Strauss’ death bed, he jokingly said that the experience of dying was much like his tone poem.

The concert will end with Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 3, a thoughtful and reflective work that has the distinction of being the only Brahms symphony to end quietly.

The guest conductor of the CSO will be David Afkham, who is principal conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1983, he is described as “one of the most-sought-after conductors to emerge from Germany in recent years.”

This series of previews will be concluded next week.

John Frayne hosts 'Classics of the Phonograph' on Saturdays at WILL-FM and, in retirement, teaches at the UI. Reach him at frayne@illinois.edu.