A Performance Of Scintillating Virtuosity

We hope you’ll join us this weekend for our performances of Virtuosic Piano. We’ll be in the Oasis Church in Kamloops on Saturday night at 7:30, and The Nexus At First in Salmon Arm on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm.

The concert opens with a piece for just the strings, Orawa by Wojciech Kilar, who has come to be recognized as one of Poland’s leading composers. You may not have heard of him, but you’ve probably heard his music: He has composed for many well-known films such as The PianistPortrait of a LadyThe Truman Show, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula to name just a few.

Orawa is one a set of pieces that celebrate the Tatra Mountain region of the Polish-Slovak border. In this piece, he depicts the highland bands that shepherds form to celebrate the end of the grazing season in the mountain pastures. Their tradition is to play and dance a lively “robbers’ dance,” all of which may explain why Kilar shapes the music to sound archaic, even primitive in places. It certainly explains the surprise that is in store for us at the very end.

Next is another Polish composer, this time one you’ve probably heard of once or twice before; Frederick Chopin. His Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of six works for piano and orchestra he composed between the ages of 17 and 21, and was written to help him showcase his piano virtuoso skills. Like Kilar’s Orawa, this piece is influenced by Polish folk music. The Warsaw press said of this concerto, “Chopin knows what sounds are heard in our fields and woods, he has listened to the song of the Polish villager, he has made it his own and has united the tunes of his native soil in skilful compositions and elegant execution.”

Joining the KSO to perform Chopin’s scintillating concerto is pianist Mathieu Gaudet. Based in Montreal, he has won numerous awards and competitions. In addition to being a highly regarded concert pianist, he is also an Emergency Room doctor.

Concluding the concert is a rarely heard masterpiece by the woefully unknown French composer Louise Farrenc, her Symphony No. 3. Like Chopin, Farrenc was a piano virtuoso. She was also the only woman to teach at the Paris Conservatory in the entirety of the 19th century, where she taught piano for 30 years and became known as one of the best piano professors in all of Europe.
Her 3rd symphony was the only symphony she ever heard performed in her lifetime. It is bold and energetic, and has a finale that is just as catchy and ear-wormy as Beethoven’s famous 5th symphony.