For the final concert of the 2017-18 orchestra season the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra rang from its rafters to the bowels of Kleinhans Music Hall for an Italian Festival of music.
The afternoon began with a composition by composer, playwright, and scholar Ildebrando Pizetti. With a desire to return Italy to the days when it was the center of art and culture, Pizetti chose the tragedy “Oedipus Re” as the inspiration for the mood music “3 Symphonic Preludes from Sophocles ‘Oedipus Rex’”.
While not an Italian, Russian composer Sergei Rachmoninoff took inspiration from Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini for his “Variations on a Theme by Paganini”.
Van Cliburn medalist Benedetto Lupo returned to Buffalo to perform the piano portion of the piece.
Variations is a 22 minute piece that features 24 variations on a singe theme, the most famous of which was used to compose music for the Christopher Reeve film “Somewhere in Time”.
After a standing ovation Lupo returned to the stage for an encore performance of an etude.
After the intermission the BPO returned to the stage…mostly…for a performance of two compositions by Ottorino Respighi.
First up was “La ‘fontane di Roma” – The Fountains of Rome – with visits to the Valle Giulia, the Triton, the Trevi, and Villa Medici Fountains all in a single day. As night fell, Respighi used the clarinet to simulate the sound of a nightingale. The clarinet then gave way to the sound of a real nightingale. Unusual in its concept, even more unique is that included in the script is a disc with the original recording that Respighi made in 1924 when he composed the piece and it is that sound that listeners here during the performance.
The afternoon of music concluded with “I pini di Roma” – The Pines of Rome. Again the piece is a visitation of four locations in a single day. Not satisfied to simply perform the work, musical director Joann Falletta strives for authenticity in sound. For the movement near the Catacombs, principal trumpet player Alex Jockapii played from the basement beneath the stage. And in the final movement when the soldiers marching down the Appian Way respond to call from the town, some of the horn players performed from up in the balcony.
Once the horns and strings went quiet, the Music Hall rang out with applause from the large crowd, a standing ovation and applause that lasted from several minutes while Joann Falletta pointed out soloists, shook hands, and thanked orchestra members for a joyous and successful end to another BPO season.
The BPO returns for a new season in September.