The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra led by FoAnn Falletta began the month of October with tow performances by Canadian violinist and superstar James Ehnes. Making his BPO debut, Ehnes joined the Orchestra for a performance of the “Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35” by Austrian born composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
But before Ehnes took the stage, the BPO gave a world premiere performance of “Die Dammerungen” by American composer and University of Buffalo professor of music composition David Felder. A modern composition in the vein of 20th century composers, the piece in four movements explored twilight and what it might sound like musically. Noting that he himself is approaching the twilight of his life, Felder said that there are many kinds of twilight in life and he endeavoured to mark a few of them in his composition.
James Ehnes completed the first half of the concert with the violin concerto that sounded more like it was a cinematic composition than a classical music piece.
Born Jewish in Austria, Korngold, like many others, was forced to leave his life in Austria and seek refuge far away from Europe, the Nazis, and war. Korngold landed in Hollywood where he was able to continue his musical endeavours as a film composer. His violin concerto even has themes from several of his films included in the composition.
A very passionate player Ehnes gave a masterful performance of the work and earned himself a standing ovation and three call backs for a bow.
For an encore Ehnes performed the “Sonata No. 3” for violin by Eugene Ysaye.
After the intermission, JoAnn Falletta and the BPO returned for a performance of the waltz “Invitation to the Dance” by Carl Maria von Weber. Originally written for the piano, Hector Berlioz orchestrated the piece to be included in the opera “Der Freischutz”. The nine minute piece was added to the opera to fulfill the mandate that the Paris Opera include the Paris Ballet.
The BPO concluded the concert with the Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss which is also much like the Korngold in that it had a cinematic feel about it.
Unlike European orchestras, American orchestras are known for their stiff players who show no emotion or passion when they play. Not so with the BPO whose members display the passion they feel for the music – and it is a joy to see for a change.