The Paducah Symphony Orchestra kicks off their 2015-2016 season this weekend with a huge opener from the romantic period, featuring two composers who shared similar styles and love for the same woman. Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 3, op.97 E-flat major is followed by Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No.2, op. 83, B-flat major. On Sounds Good, George Eldred speaks with Maestro Raffaele Ponti about the work and life of these two contemporaries.
Both composers wrote four symphonies, Brahms and Schumann. The question Maestro Raffaele Ponti proposes is were they writing to break forms and change things or were they responding to the form of music changing under them? The works explode the form of symphony and concerto in concept, both very layered and colorful. Ponti says the men were very familiar with each other's works and share a common sound and tonality in the color they use - a cello/bassoon/horn color that sounds very rich and wonderful.
Schumann had a short, turbulent life that ended in an insane asylum at the age of 46. Architecturally, his Symphony No. 3 is very difficult to conduct and to play. His pacing is different than a piece with more traditional fast/slow movement. Brahms' piece features a prominent piano and horn conversation. Ponti says if you listen behind and between the notes you'll hear a story. "What these composers were writing was not simply music, but it's life - life experiences," he says.
Schumann and Brahms shared colors of orchestra, changing and exploding form and the love of Clara Schumann - though the relationship was always respectful on the Brahms side. Clara herself was a composer and edited and looked over most of Robert's music. One wonders how much of his work is from the edit of her pen.
The Paducah Symphony Orchestra presents Brahms' 2nd Piano Concerto on September 12 at 7:30 p.m.