The Nashville Symphony’s Classical Series resumes on March 21-23 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center with Spanish Nights, a program led by guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya that celebrates the colors, rhythms and vitality of the Iberian Peninsula with the works of four different composers.
The vivid contrasts and sound combinations of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Cappriccio espagnol open the performances, followed by violinist Chee Yun joining the orchestra as the featured soloist on Édouard Lalo’s sparkling Symphonie espagnole. The concerts close with two Spanish composers – Joaquín Turina and Manuel Falla – whose dance-inspired pieces evoke the distinctive regional flavors of Spain.
Great seats are available starting at $20 (while supplies last, additional fees apply), and the Symphony’s Soundcheck program offers $10 tickets to students in K-12, college and grad school. Free musical entertainment by the Serenatta Romantic Latin Trio precedes each performance.
About the Program
Early in his career, Rimsky-Korsakov aligned himself with fellow Russian composers intent on cultivating a distinctly Slavic brand of music. He found inspiration for his Cappriccio espagnol in two Spanish-influenced works by the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka and also drew on his own experience visiting the coast of Northwestern Spain while serving in the Russian Navy. The musical term “capriccio” elicits images of virtuosity and fantasy, and though the composer originally envisioned the work as a violin concerto – evident in the prominent role of violin solos throughout – the piece evolved into one with soloist roles for other instruments as well.
French composer Lalo toiled for years writing for opera before enjoying a career breakout in his 50s with a number of instrumental works, namely his Violin Concerto in 1874, which he wrote as a showcase for Spanish violin prodigy Pablo Sarasate. One year later, the composer penned Symphonie espagnole,tailoring the piece to Sarasate’s remarkable technical command and using Spanish-flavored thematic material and rhythms in a nod to the violinist’s origins. While Symphonie espagnole is considered a concerto, Lalo chose to keep his original title because it represented “a violin soaring above the rigid form of an old symphony.”
Following intermission, the performances shift to the works of Turina and Falla, colleagues who both hailed from the Andalusia region of Spain and were influenced by the French artistic developments each encountered during formative periods spent living in Paris.
Danzas fantásticas (Fantastic Dances) is Turina’s best-known work and was composed in 1919 following the composer’s return to Spain. Turina initially conceived the music for the keyboard before eventually orchestrating the full score, which is comprised of three dance pieces inspired by the music of Andalusia and by José Más y Laglera’s novella La orgía. Each piece corresponds to a different dance or musical style, starting with the festive jota of Spain’s Aragon region, followed by folk-flavored sounds from the Basque region and culminating with the flamenco tradition.
The concerts close with Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), based on Pedro Antonio de Alarcón’s novella of the same name. The piece – which evolved out of Falla’s relationship with Russian ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev – features a narrative of fairy-tale like simplicity centered around a miller and his wife, who bring down the town’s pompous magistrate after he tries to seduce the miller’s wife. El sombrero de tres picos draws on styles from Andalusia and Aragon, and flamenco, fandango and Roma influences as well.
Tickets for Spanish Nights may be purchased:
- Online at NashvilleSymphony.org/SpanishNights
- Via phone at 615.687.6400
- At the Schermerhorn Symphony Center Box Office, One Symphony Place in downtown Nashville
Program notes, performer bios, a Spotify playlist and audio of Giancarlo Guerrero discussing the program, can be found at: https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/spanishnights.
The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming and its commitment to performing, recording and commissioning works by America’s leading composers. The Nashville Symphony has released 29 recordings on Naxos, which have received 24 GRAMMY® nominations and 13 GRAMMY® Awards, making it one of the most active recording orchestras in the country. The orchestra has also released recordings on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and New West Records, among other labels. With more than 140 performances annually, the orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs reach 60,000 children and adults each year.