The Tulare County Symphony has titled its November concert “Final Chords” because it features Tchaikovsky’s last symphony and Elgar’s final concerto. The concert will be Saturday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Visalia Fox Theatre.
The first short piece, “March Slave,” begins with a familiar tune. Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write it in 1876 to benefit wounded Serbian veterans during the Serbo-Turkish War. Toward the end of the piece, there are a few bars of the “1812 Overture” thrown in.
Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6” was his final completed symphony. The composer led the first performance in St. Petersburg and died nine days later. Although some say the piece had the feel of a suicide note, Tchaikovsky specialist David Brown suggests that the symphony deals with the power of fate in life and death.
And Tchaikovsky regarded his new symphony with great affection, saying, “I think it will be successful; it is rare for me to write anything with such love and enthrallment. I can honestly say that never in my life have I been so pleased with myself, so proud, or felt so fortunate to have created something as good as this.”
Elgar’s “Cello Concerto” will feature a young and upcoming cellist, Cicely Parnas. When the then 19-year-old Parnas performed Elgar’s “Cello Concerto” in two performances in January 2013 in Vermont, soon after performing a different piece at Carnegie Hall, a review said, “Parnas wowed the audience with a virtuosic and passionate performance of Elgar’s brooding concerto. She is certainly an artist to watch and enjoy.”
Elgar began the concerto in 1918 after undergoing an operation in London to have an infected tonsil removed, a dangerous operation for a 61-year-old man. When he regained consciousness after sedation, he asked for pencil and paper, and wrote down the melody that would become the first theme from the concerto.
The work is very simple, a style that was seen in Elgar’s music in his last couple of years, but with a profound wisdom and beauty underlying its simplicity.
Tickets are $30 to $39.50 at the symphony office, 208 W. Main St., Suite D, Visalia, downstairs in Montgomery Square. Student prices are $10. Tickets are also available at 732-8600 and at www.tularecountysymphony.com.
The audience is invited to come early at 6:45pm to hear music director Bruce Kiesling’s pre-concert talk.