Classical Notes: Symphony travels to city of music and dreams

On Sunday, the Okanagan Symphony performed a programme rich in waltzes and love songs, celebrating Viennese tradition.

Vienna has many times been voted the world’s most livable city.

The seventh largest city in Europe, during the age of Viennese Classicism, it was named the “City of Music.”

It hosted Strauss Jr., Mozart, Haydn, Brahms and Richard Strauss (no relation to Johann.) But it was also known as “The City of Dreams” after the psycho-analyst, Sigmund Freud.

Hardly surprising that Vienna is known for music and romance.

On Sunday, the Okanagan Symphony performed a programme rich in waltzes and love songs, celebrating Viennese tradition.

As the last great capital for 19th century-style balls, Vienna still hosts over 200 annual balls, some with up to nine orchestras. They are held all night in beautiful palaces, and are certainly places for romance.

This was the environment in which Austrian composer Johann Strauss Jr. became Vienna’s darling for dance music. Known as “The Waltz King,” he was responsible for the popularity of the Viennese waltz.

Vienna was also a centre for operetta.

These, usually short, are considered less serious than “real” opera.

Strauss Jr. was also the most prolific composer of German operetta. His third, Die Fledermaus, has became the most performed operetta worldwide.

Other Viennese composers featured on Sunday were Franz Lehár, Franz von Suppé, Richard Heuberger and Oscar Strauss, Johann’s younger brother.

Rosemary Thomson, OSO musical director and conductor, introduced the evening’s music as “ear candy,” and started with von Suppé’s Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna.  The dramatic opening led to a beautiful slow waltz on cello. It finished at a gallop, with glorious timpani reminiscent of the steam organs on carousels.

She then introduced Taylor Pardell (soprano), one of four alumnus from the UBC Opera Ensemble, with Lehár’s My Lips, They Kiss So Hot. This had a Spanish flavour, yet sung (as was all the pieces) in German.

Chelsea Rus (soprano) and Aaron Durand (baritone) followed with Heuberger’s We Go in the Chambre Separee, a deliciously flirtatious duet:

“Patience, my treasure, come with me awhile apart, in cozy corner made for two.”

The fourth singer, Martin Sadd (tenor), gave us Happily Have I Kissed The Women, Lehár’s account of Paganini’s infidelity.

But undoubtedly the best known piece of the evening was Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz.

One of the most consistently popular in the classical repertoire, its premiere was hardly successful. Strauss later lengthened it for the World’s Fair in Paris, and this version is the one most commonly performed. As the unofficial Austrian national anthem it’s broadcast by all official TV and radio stations at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Thomson explained how Strauss’ wife, Adele, approached Brahms with a request that he autograph her fan. Brahms, instead of the usual practice of adding some of his own music, copied a section from the Blue Danube, and wrote beneath it: “Unfortunately, NOT by Johannes Brahms.”

Used by Stanley Kubrick for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the waltz celebrated man’s development of space technology, comparing the intricate docking procedures of an approaching space ship with the role of dancers in a waltz.

Jim Elderton is a freelance writer and filmmaker who reviews the Okanagan Symphony season for The Morning Star.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A structure fire was reported in Eagle Rock Mobile Home Park in Armstrong Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Contributed)
WATCH: Fire in Armstrong mobile home park

Residents reported a large structure fire broke out at 9 p.m.

The  Vernon Magnums fell to the Kamloops Broncos 18-6 in Southern Interior Football Conference Atom  Division play Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Devin Rodger photo)
Vernon Magnums slide against Kamloops in slippery football Sunday

Vernon put in a strong defensive effort but fell 18-6 to Kamloops over the weekend

Community Futures North Okanagan hosted free virtual valley-wide seminars during Small Business Week. (Contributed)
Organization equips Okanagan businesses with pandemic tools

Community Futures sees success in its all-virtual Small Business Week seminar series

Dr. Steve Piper, owner of Monashee Health Collective, is leading an applied research project to develop an app that will help health professionals connect with patients in real time. (Contributed).
Okanagan researchers developing app to connect patients with practitioners virtually

The prototype holistic wellness app will be tested and launched over the next six months

Two have been taken to hospital following a vehicle crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Crash north of Vernon causes Highway 97 traffic delays

Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle incident near Swan Lake; occupants taken to hospital

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
UPDATE: Flames doused for second time at fatal Penticton apartment fire

The Elm Ave. building first caught fire around 4 a.m., killing two people and displacing dozens

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

(Submitted)
Penticton apartment fire claims two lives

An apartment on Elm Avenue went up in flames Tuesday morning

A Summerland woman has set up an online fundraiser to provide backpacks to those being released from correctional facilities.(ca.gofundme.com)
Summerland woman raising money for backpack program

Backpacks will be distributed to those being released from correctional facilities

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read