Ruth Leon recommends… Aspen Music Festival – Livestreams

Ruth Leon recommends… Aspen Music Festival – Livestreams

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

July 12, 2022

Aspen Music Festival – Livestreams

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Two unmissable concerts presented in one of nature’s most spectacular settings. Best of all, these concerts are free but can’t be accessed until concert time, 4pm MT on Monday, July 11 5.30 MT (that’s Mountain Time) on Friday July 15 but are then available for 72 hours.

Many readers know that I spend my summers in Aspen, Colorado, enjoying the mountains and the music. Because of Covid, though, 2022 will be my first time for three years and I’m ridiculously excited. So, special pleading aside, for the first time this year the Festival is sharing the music with all of us via livestream.

On Monday we can dip into a live concert given by an orchestra specially formed to showcase the young conductors in AMFS’s Conducting Academy. Many of these fledgling conductors go on to international careers and it’s always a treat to see them at the start of their journeys. Each movement of each work is conducted by a different student conductor, each of whom plays in the orchestra when not on the podium.

In this concert, this summer’s Piano Competition Winner plays Schumann’s  piano concerto in A minor, op. 54. This will be followed by Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73. After struggling for years to complete his First Symphony, Brahms  produced a second one almost effortlessly. “The melodies flow so freely that one must be careful not to trample on them,” he wrote from the idyllic Austrian seaside village of Portschach where the work was composed. Much of the music is drenched in the blue skies, sunshine, and rippling streams that surrounded Brahms, with moments of tension and darkness adding an intensely dramatic element.
On Friday, 25-year old pianist Terence Wilson (see photo)  makes his Aspen debut in Liszt’s  uber-virtuosic Piano Concerto No 1 in E-flat major with the Aspen Chamber Symphony.
Diabolical octaves, intricate ornaments, arpeggios which take up the entire keyboard’s real estate, and other challenges that can make pianists reach for their anti-anxiety meds contrast with quieter, lyrical passages of gentle beauty.
This is followed by Shostakovich  Symphony No. 15 in A major, op. 141. Shostakovich wrote his last symphony in only a few weeks in 1971 in declining health. It’s filled with strange quotes and allusions to music of earlier composers and mysterious references to Shostakovich’s previous works. Early in the piece, you’ll recognize Rossini’s  William Tell Overture, which opens this concert. The composer himself was at a loss to explain the meaning of these quotes, telling a friend, “I don’t myself quite know why the quotations are there, but I could not, could not, not include them.” The piece seems to fade away with quiet rhythms creating a sonic question mark lingering in the air following this piece of power and mystery. 
I’m looking forward to discovering an exciting new artist in a piano tour de force and hearing an enigmatic symphonic swan song in this concert conducted by AMFS Music Director Robert Spano. 

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