Three years after a brush with death, Dmitri Shostakovich started the monumental work that was likely for him, an exercise in understanding mortality. “I tried to convince myself that I shouldn’t fear death,” he wrote in his memoir. “But how can you not fear death? … I wrote a number of works reflecting my understanding of the question, and as it seems to me, they’re not particularly optimistic works. The most important of them, I feel, is the Fourteenth Symphony; I have special feelings for it.”
And into the work we plunge. As Richard Rodda remarks in his program notes, the piece is “a sequence of songs providing musical contrast and balance with a tightly unified structure and a consistent artistic vision,” adding that the composer himself observed that the piece works because its “outer simplicity is coupled with a vast inner depth of emotional expression.”
A masterpiece such as this needs an equally fortified conductor, and into the ring steps James Conlon. “I have never heard James Conlon conduct anything—orchestral, concerto, opera, choral—that wasn’t at the highest level of intensity,” says Mondavi Center Executive Director Don Roth. “His is the perfect combination of head, heart and conducting technique that leads to those performances that lift you out of your seat.”
Clearly the stage has been set for a profound, memorable and captivating evening of music, destined to be one of those Mondavi Center performances that people will be talking about for years to come.
Thu • Oct 13, 2011 • 8PM
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Individual SUPPORT PROVIDED By
Anne Gray Raventos in memory of Antolin Raventos, M.D.