Music by a Catalan, a Basque and a Russian merge

Muy alegre.


A colorful blend of music spans Spanish territory and reaches into regions of folk music in Symphony Joslyn’s first concert of the new season. It opens with Catalan-born composer Roberto Gerhard calling forth his feelings for his homeland in the ballet score Alegrias from 1944 which he called “Divertissement flamenco.” He must have yearned for the people and land he had to leave behind when, in his late 40s, he had settled in England fleeing his nation’s civil war. By then, he also felt the tug of what Bartok and Stravinsky had been doing. 

Seven years before then, that conflict not yet in flames, Sergei Prokofiev, likewise in his 40s, heard his second violin concerto debut in Madrid to so much acclaim that a delegation of Spanish composers assembled to express their thanks. There the Russian composer, also in exile, called forth, as if in tenderness, the harmonies and rhythms of the country he’d left behind, adding some influences from his host country.

A little more than 100 years before, Basque composer Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga finished his Symphony in D following as many as 25 other works going as far back as age 11, at times also expressing melodic elements from his part of the world. Yes, a prodigy. And so acknowledged so often that he was soon called “The Spanish Mozart.” He and the Austrian genius actually shared the same first and second baptismal names as well as a parallel birthday, albeit fifty years apart. Admirers of this work also say that it even has appealing suggestions of Mozart’s style and sound.

Susanna Perry Gilmore calls forth Prokofiev’s solo lines and Thomas Wilkins conducts members of the Omaha Symphony with his usual elán.  

This concert in the Symphony Joslyn series is Sunday, Sept. 27 at Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall, 2200 Dodge St. 2 p.m. Tickets: $33. www.omahasymphony.org


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