March 25, 2018: Grieg and Mahler

pso poster

Grieg and Mahler

Sunday, March 25, 2018, 3PM

2 PM pre-concert discussion

The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH Tickets »

John Page, music director
Dr. Rick Miller, piano


Grieg · Piano Concerto
Mahler · Symphony No. 4

Springtime with the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra heralds a musical journey to the Romantic era. The afternoon will begin with one of Edvard Grieg's most popular and important early works - the Piano Concerto in A minor. Considered one of the leading musical Romanticists, Grieg's development and inclusion of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions launched Norway onto the international musical stage, in addition to helping coalesce a national identity. The PSO is pleased to present this performance with soloist Dr. Rick Miller, who offers his viewpoint on the Grieg Concerto:

[It] opens with unforgettable dramatic flourish with a crescendo solo tympani roll followed by a crashing fortissimo cascade of full octave chords in both hands, descending from the highest treble to the lowest bass in intervals characteristic of Norwegian music. From its bass nadir, an a minor arpeggio flies back up to the highest treble. Though this striking introduction was not necessarily intended to inspire programmatic or pictoral interpretation, it has always brought to my mind a vista down a majestic Norwegian fjord as an eagle plummets from dizzying height to pluck its piscine prey from the water then reascend in triumph to its mountain top aerie.

A lovely lyrical, haunting, yearning slow movement ensues to subtle accompaniment of muted string sonorities which the piano embellishes with decorative arabesque figurations. This conjures up for me those shimmering, undulating curtains of light of the Aurora Borealis.

The second movement's spiritual tranquility is abruptly cut short by an attacca virtuoso flourish that introduces the third movement's foot-stomping dance rhythms that are said to derive from Norwegian folk dance. Midway through the raucous, spirited disinhibition of the movement, Grieg inserted an interlude of exquisitely lyrical passionate yearning. I imagine an exhausted but reflective dancer whose romantic imagination had just been stirred by passing contact with a partner on the dance floor. That evanescent day dream yields back to the rhythmic urgency of the dance music which builds to a massive sonic climax of competition between the soloist and orchestra to conclude the concerto.

Randy Armstrong, this year's artist-in-residence, will present his interpretive work for this concert's message. The afternoon will then conclude with Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Programmatic in nature; presenting an ethereal child's vision of Heaven, it is one of his shorter and lighter orchestrated symphonies. The work is the fulfillment of a larger tetralogy of his first four symphonies based on earlier song texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn ("The Boy's Magic Horn"). The symphony is constructed around a single song from that collection; orchestrated in various ways in the first three movements and then sung entirely by a solo soprano with orchestral accompaniment in the final movement.

This awe-inspiring concert will happen March 25th at 3 p.m. in The Music Hall. Pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. from our own maestro John Page.


General: $25
Senior: $22 (65 and over)
Student: $12 (college and under)

Purchase Tickets Online »