Erie Phil Presents Viva Italia!
Free concert program buona notizia for classical music lovers
There are few better ways to say ciao to February than a trip to the Mediterranean. Despite the current challenges with international travel, the Erie Philharmonic should prove a capable tour guide with Viva Italia!, the latest installment of its "In Your Home" virtual concert series.
Replacing the 2020-21 concert season that was to be held in the Erie Insurance Arena as Warner Theatre construction continues, "In Your Home" has taken us so far to Germany and Austria, the British Isles, the American Wild West, and Russia. This time, the fertile classical music tradition of Italy takes the spotlight, featuring works by Ottorino Respighi, Giuseppi Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini, Giacomo Puccini, Antonio Vivaldi, and more. The Philharmonic is joined here by guest soloists Dana Sundet (oboe), Laura Koepke (bassoon), Beth Etten (piano), and I-Fei Chen (piano).
Selections from the program include:
- Ancient Airs and Dances (1931) by Respighi, inspired by Italian and French lute compositions of the 16th and 17th centuries. The lute, of course, is the predecessor to the modern guitar.
- String Quartet (1873) by Verdi, the opera composer's only purely instrumental work. He wrote it to pass the time while one of his star sopranos was stricken ill.
- String Sonata No. 3 (1804) by Rossini. Originally scored for a string quartet, the Philharmonic has adapted it for string orchestra. Also, ya man Rossini was only 12 when he composed this (and the other five of his Six Sonatas for Strings).
- Sonata in G for Oboe and Piano (ca. 1728) by Giovani Boni. We don't know much about Boni, but we know his "Solos for a German Flute, Hoboy or Violin" charmed English oboist Evelyn Rothwell enough to resurrect, edit, and arrange it. Rothwell was noted for playing the hoboy (i.e. oboe) in the 20th century like nobody's business.
- Cristantemi (1890) by Puccini, which translates to "chrysanthemums." It was written in memoriam of Amadeo, the second son of King Victor Emanuel II, while Puccini was toiling on his opera Manon Lescaut. If you listen to both, you can hear noticeable musical cross-pollination between the works.
- Toccata for Bassoon and Piano (1924) by Nino Rota, a prominent film scorer of the 20th century who collaborated with director juggernauts Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, and Francis Ford Copolla. He also actively composed for concert and opera halls.
- Concerto for Strings Alla Rustica (ca. 1725) by Vivaldi, a prolific composer of chamber works, sacred vocal pieces, and operas. He penned more than 500 concertos in his lifetime, including (most famously) The Four Seasons and (somewhat less famously) Alla Rustica ("in a rustic style"), aka Concerto for Strings in G Major, RV151 — but that doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well.
This program debuted Thursday, Feb. 25, but you can catch an encore matinee performance on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m., on digital cable (WQLN-PBS), by antenna (Channel 54), or via livestream (wqln.org/eriephil or facebook.com/WQLNPublicMedia). Thereafter, a recording of this program (and all previous) will be available at eriephil.org/videovault.