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Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

MSO Sets Sail on a Sea of Sound

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The fact that Peter Tchaikovsky’s (1840-93) Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 (1878) is both melodious and structurally sound attests to the resilience of its creator, for it was composed shortly after Tchaikovsky’s disastrous marriage and abortive suicide attempt. The D Major Concerto fairly teems with glorious melodies: expressive, lovely, rousing, folk-like. As music writer Roger Dettmer has observed: “No Russian composer before or since Tchaikovsky has ended a concerto with greater finesse and panache.”

The poetry of Walt Whitman remained a lifelong inspiration for British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). In 1909 he completed what would be the grandest Whitman setting of his life: A Sea Symphony, wherein he fashioned a huge score that complements some of the finest choral writing of its era. A Sea Symphony traces the human soul’s journey through life as a ship sets upon a voyage into uncharted waters.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Edo de Waart performs both these magnificent works Nov. 26-27. The violin soloist for Tchaikovsky’s concerto is Kyoko Takezawa; soprano Christine Goerke, baritone Hugh Russell and the MSO Chorus join in for the Vaughan Williams symphony.