For its first Masterworks concert of the 2016-17 season, the Sarasota Orchestra is performing a Beethoven Overture, a Mendelssohn concerto and a Stravinsky orchestral work that caused an actual riot when it was first performed.
The concert, which will be performed three times this weekend at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, is titled “The Rite Music.” Most classical music lovers will figure out that the title refers to that riot-causing work, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” The piece’s syncopated rhythms, dissonant tone clusters and absence of traditional tonal harmony caused yelling and fist fights when it was first performed as the music for a Najinsky ballet. Stravinsky, at least according to legend, had to escape through a bathroom window.
It’s now considered a masterpiece, but its relatively primitive sound should present an interesting counterpoint to Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor,” which many people think is one of the most beautiful concertos ever written. Daniel Jordan, the Sarasota Orchestra’s concertmaster, is the soloist.
The opening piece in the concert is Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.” It premiered in 1809, commissioned by the director of the Imperial Theater in Vienna to accompany the Goethe play “Egmont.” Beethoven wrote several pieces for the play, and the overture is by far the most well-known today.
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There’s an interesting parallel between the Beethoven and Stravinsky works. Both were written as accompaniment for stage pieces, but both have become much more famous than the works for which they were written.