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'Two towering masterpieces' featured

February 08, 2007|by ELIZABETH SCHULZE

This weekend at The Maryland Theatre, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present two towering masterpieces in the third program of our MasterWorks series.

Arguably, the greatest concerto ever written for the cello, Dvork's Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104, commands respect and deep appreciation from listeners and musicians alike. The great composer Johannes Brahms is said to have remarked, "Why on earth didn't I know one could write a cello concerto like this? If I'd only known, I'd have written one long ago!"

We are fortunate to have soloist William De Rosa with us this weekend to interpret this great concerto. De Rosa's distinguished career belies his relative youth. His recordings and performances have garnered rave reviews around the world and he is well known for his gorgeous tone and impeccable virtuosity.

The second half of our program is devoted to what is, in my opinion, the greatest American symphony ever written. Aaron Copland wrote his Symphony No. 3 in 1946. The work combines all the best qualities of Copland the composer. It has moments of high patriotic rhetoric - which we recognize immediately in the strains of the familiar "Fanfare for the Common Man" - incorporated into the final movement. Moments of quiet, almost prayerful music fill out the first and third movements.

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His brilliant writing for the dance finds full expression in the second movement, as he uniquely combines the rhythms of jazz with the unbridled joy of the square dance.

No one else could have written this symphony. While early music critics found the work perhaps too public and too ambitious, listeners quickly moved to the essential truth of the work - a bold and fearless musical statement which Serge Koussevitzky, the conductor of the premiere performance, described as going "from the heart to the heart."

Elizabeth Schulze is music director and conductor of the MSO.

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