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Jean Oelrich
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Pacific Symphony takes on the most popular work in Italian repertoire—Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”—featuring violinist Philippe Quint, plus Strauss’ epic journey, “An Alpine Symphony”

Orange County, Calif. — April 21, 2016

Two all-time favorite pieces of music provide a feast for the ears, while stimulating imaginations with their vivid, arresting beauty, when Pacific Symphony performs one of the most beloved works of the Baroque repertoire and then takes a stunning excursion through the Alps. First, Vivaldi’s lyrical masterpiece “The Four Seasons,” which paints tantalizing pictures of the changing seasons, is performed and led by award-winning Russian-American violinist Philippe Quint. Revel in the celebration of the autumn harvest, the warmth of the winter fire and the languor of the summer sun as Vivaldi’s Venetian tour de force unleashes all of the drama and splendor of the Baroque period and the lyrical beauty of the strings. Then, led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the Symphony retraces the majestic, musical depiction of a dawn-to-dusk hike up and down the Bavarian Alps, as brought to life by Richard Strauss’ lush, splendid musical descriptions in his “An Alpine Symphony.”

The concert takes place Thursday through Saturday, May 19-21, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets range from $25-$110. A preview talk with Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia begins at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

“Overall, this program celebrates Earth’s nature and its deep influence on composers and their music throughout the ages,” says Maestro St.Clair. “Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is as permanent and important a part of our orchestral repertoire as the seasons themselves are to our daily lives. This far-reaching concerto has become such a rich staple on concert stages. Along with Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is almost a yearly ‘must.’ ”

Nicknamed il Prete Rosso (“the Red Priest”) for being a Catholic priest and red-haired, Vivaldi composed 770 works, including 477 concerted works. “The Four Seasons” has easily become one of the most favored pieces in classical music for its stunning portrayal of the Earth’s changing seasons, demanding virtuosity for its breakneck pace. Four sonnets were written (possibly by Vivaldi himself) to accompany the piece, and every word can be heard in the music and envisioned by the mind. The piece reflected Vivaldi’s intense feelings for life, and the transformation the changing seasons had on him. He created the work for solo violin and in the original score, he wrote descriptions of the most stunning scenes of spring, summer, autumn and winter, each consisting of three highly expressive movements. Bringing it to life for the Symphony’s audiences is the talented Quint.

“Philippe Quint is a dear and welcomed guest with our orchestra,” says St.Clair of the acclaimed violinist, who is widely recognized for his classical chops. “I have asked him to come and lead this concerto, without me as conductor on the stage. He is a master at leading musicians in performances of this concerto. This adds to the concerto’s intimacy and imagery. Not all soloists agree to do this concerto in this manner, but Philippe does it masterfully.”

 The Chicago Tribune proclaimed of Quint: “Here is a fiddle virtuoso whose many awards are fully justified by the brilliance of his playing.” Among his many honors, Quint was the winner of the Juilliard Competition and Career Grant Recipient of Salon de Virtuosi, Bagby and Clarisse Kampel Foundations. He is a recent winner of the “Ambassador of Arts” award.

The symphonic tone poem, “An Alpine Symphony,” premiered more than a century ago, and was last performed by Pacific Symphony during the 2011-12 season, with memorable results and strong audience appreciation. Strauss’ exquisite work, with its explicit indications of forests, meadows, glaciers and mountain peaks, is his last great symphonic poem—with the whole journey taking place in the span of one day and one night.

“Strauss’ ‘Alpine Symphony,’ like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons,’ paints incredible tonal pictures of a journey through God’s natural gift—nature,” says St.Clair. “In a single work, Strauss composes some of his most serenely intimate music, complemented by the sonic power and majesty of the wondrous Alps. Through the genius of Richard Strauss, the orchestra’s sounds might be the only way to adequately describe the magnitude of the darkness before sunrise, the brooks, the glaciers and the acme of these wonders. There is no greater master at tone painting than Strauss.” 

By the time he wrote “An Alpine Symphony,” Strauss had achieved a level of mastery in orchestration that was quite impressive. The epic piece used one of the largest orchestras ever assembled, especially in the brass department. It had 12 French horns, four Wagner tubas, two sets of timpani, extra trumpets and trombones, a wind machine, a thunder machine and extra woodwinds. And he even used a device for the wind section that would allow the players to hold long notes indefinitely without having to breathe. It involved foot pumps and air tubes and other intriguing inventions. Holding true today—to call it anything less than an extravaganza would be an understatement.

Lauded by the Daily Telegraph (UK) for his “searingly poetic lyricism,” violinist Quint is carving an unconventional path with his impassioned desire for reimagining traditional works and rediscovering neglected repertoire. Receiving several Grammy nominations for his two albums “Korngold” and “William Schuman Concertos,” Quint’s remarkable degree of lyricism, poetry and impeccable virtuosity has gripped audiences in Asia, Australia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and the U.S. with what The Times (London) describes as his “bravura technique, and unflagging energy.”

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Quint studied at Moscow’s Special Music School for the Gifted with the famed Russian violinist Andrei Korsakov, and made his orchestral debut at the age of 9. After moving to the United States, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. His recordings have received multiple “Editor’s Choice” selections in Gramophone, The Strad, Strings and the Daily Telegraph. Quint’s live performances and interviews have been broadcast on television by CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC World News, NBC, Reuters, Bloomberg TV, as well as by radio stations nationwide including NPR, WNYC and WQXR.

Pacific Symphony’s Classical series performances are made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation, with additional support from the Avenue of the Arts Hotel, KUSC and PBS SoCal. Concert sponsors include Catherine and James Emmi and Margaret Gates.