The UCSB Chamber Orchestra's 2016-17 season kicks off with the powerfully sonorous and dark chords of Brahms' "Tragic Overture", on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall on the UCSB campus. In an overture that "weeps" according to Brahms, the composer uses an assortment of unstable motives and melodies that lead to a moment of passion in the violas and quickly turns sour again as the sharpness of the opening chords resound with a renewed realism. From there, the quirky and short "Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra" by Igor Stravinsky features numerous virtuosic exchanges in the woodwinds and brass. Originally written as piano duets for Stravinsky's children, this suite was orchestrated in 1925 and has been an orchestra and audience favorite ever since.
Beginning in a fanfare-esque manner similar to that of the "Suite No. 2", the "Hungarian March" by Hector Berlioz retains a more ominous tone during its brief five-minute existence. Originally commissioned in 1846 because "the French know how to write revolutionary music", the march is based on a Hungarian folk tune and has little to do with the larger work - "The Damnation of Faust" - that it is associated with. The concert ends with the lively colors of Mendelssohn's famous Symphony No. 4 ("Italian") that was inspired by the wondrous sights of the Italian countryside. Written in 1833, the listener is taken on a journey that traverses the jubilant string melody of the first movement and ends with the rhythmic saltarello of the finale, a movement that has no breaks in tension until the final moments of the piece. In the middle of the symphony is a grand "Andante" inspired by processions that Mendelssohn had witnessed in Rome, as well as a flowing minuet that features the horns and bassoons in the militaristic trio section. Since the premiere of the symphony, it has been one of the most recognizable symphonic icons next to the timeless melodies of Beethoven in his fifth and ninth symphonies.
Winners of the quarterly UCSB Chamber Music Competition will perform as the UCSB Chamber Players, and open the first half of the concert.