Pianist Jon Nakamatsu performs at Long Beach Symphony Classics Concert

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guest pianist for lb symphonyMaestro Enrique Arturo Diemecke and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra continue the 2009-2010 “Beethoven Comes to the Beach” season on Saturday, March 27, when the orchestra performs Beethoven’s dynamic Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastorale,” as well as Gershwin’s Concerto in F for Piano performed by Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner Jon Nakamatsu. Also on the program: Essay No. 2 by Samuel Barber.

This concert, part of LBSO’s 2009-2010 “Beethoven Comes to the Beach” season, is the fourth of six Classics Concerts in a season that features all nine Beethoven symphonies as well as other major classical works.

“For this concert, I have programmed three seminal works by a trio of famous composers—two from the first half of the 20th, and one from the first half of the 19th century from the man who forever changed the face of classical music,” says Diemecke. “We begin the concert by celebrating the 100th anniversary of Samuel Barber’s birth in 1910 with his Second Essay for Orchestra. Next, we have a performance of George Gershwin’s groundbreaking masterpiece, Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra, performed by brilliant Van Cliburn winner Jon Nakamatsu. We end with one of Beethoven’s most beautiful and dynamic works: Symphony No. 6, the “Pastorale.” 

About Music Chosen for this LBSO Performance

Second Essay for Orchestra, Op. 17: Samuel Barber (1910 – 1981) used the term “essay” to represent an analogy to the literary form, a brief but serious consideration of a single subject. His three Essays for Orchestra are works with themes explored concisely from several different perspectives. He wrote his First Essay for Arturo Toscanini, who premiered it in 1938 with his NBC Symphony Orchestra. Barber finished the Second Essay in March 1942, using themes and ideas going back about three years. A popular composer at the time, Barber presented it to Bruno Walter, who premiered it with the New York Philharmonic the following month. The orchestration of the Second Essay is more complex than in its predecessor, with extensive use of timpani solos, brass choirs and individual woodwinds – somewhat like a one movement concerto for orchestra. Also, as in the First Essay, Barber transforms the concept of a written essay, a careful written consideration of an idea, to music.

Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra: George Gershwin was the first American composer to make jazz acceptable to the classical music audience. The groundbreaking performance of his Rhapsody in Blue at the Paul Whitman concerts in 1924 made history, but it was his Concerto in F, commissioned by Walter Damrosch for the New York Symphony and which premiered in December 1925, which was the first large-scale jazz composition in a traditionally classical form. Although billed as a concerto for the concert hall, the Concerto in F adheres only to the most basic elements to the classical models for form and structure: three movements, fast-slow-fast. There is no attempt at recreating sonata form in the movements themselves, although the finale is a rondo.

Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, “Pastorale”: While many of Beethoven’s symphonies broke new ground, the Sixth is both innovative – as it prefigures the Romantic tone poems – and traditional. Beethoven seemed to be searching for something different, an ideal way to portray and “express” nature. “Any painting, if it is carried too far in instrumental music, loses expressive quality…The overall content, consisting of more feelings than of tone paintings, will be recognized even without further description,” he wrote in his sketchbook while working on the Sixth Symphony. This and other comments to himself as he worked reveal the Symphony as more than a sentimental outpouring. The Pastorale Symphony was another of the composer’s projects, another creative challenge to be met in the context of the trajectory of his self-fulfillment as an artist. As Beethoven’s biographer Barry Cooper puts it: “He was faced with two main problems in writing a symphony in the pastoral style: the first was to prevent the music from degenerating into scene-painting or story-telling; the second was to combine the pastoral style, leisurely and undramatic, with the thrust and dynamism of the symphonic style.”

Jon Nakamatsu joins Long Beach Symphony as Guest Pianist

Jon Nakamatsu is one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation. A frequent concerto soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, and solo recitalist, Nakamatsu enjoys a continuously expanding career based on a deeply probing and illuminating musicality as well as a quietly charismatic performing style.

Nakamatsu records exclusively for harmonia mundi usa, which has released six CDs. His most recent release is his second orchestral album with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring Gershwin’s Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue, conducted by Jeff Tyzik. Soon to be released is his first CD with clarinetist Jon Manasse, a recording of the Brahms Clarinet Sonatas.

Jon Nakamatsu has studied privately with Marina Derryberry since the age of six, has worked with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and studied composition and orchestration with Dr. Leonard Stein of the Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California. In addition, he has pursued extensive studies in chamber music and musicology. A former high school German teacher, Mr. Nakamatsu is a graduate of StanfordUniversity with a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a master’s degree in Education.

All LBSO Classics Concerts take place at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center in the Terrace Theater, 300 East Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach. Concerts begin at 8 p.m. A pre-concert lecture hosted by KUSC-FM personality Rich Capparela begins at 7 p.m. for ticketed patrons, and offers entertaining insights into the evening’s repertoire.

Tickets start at $18. For more information, call 562-436-3203, or visit LBSO.org.

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