Arts & Events

New: AROUND & ABOUT MUSIC: Berkeley Symphony This Thursday: Debussy, Dutilleux, Shostakovich

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 12:03:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony, directed by Joana Carneiro, will perform another engaging program of modern orchestral music, featuring works of Debussy, Henry Dutilleux and Shostakovich, this Thursday at 8, preceded by a talk at 7:10, at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus, near Bancroft and Telegraph. 

Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune by Debussy premiered in 1894, based on Mallarme's great poem, and is considered a symphonic poem. Pierre Boulez has referred to it as a turning point for modern orchestral music.  

Dutilleux's The Shadows of Time, premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1997, will feature soloists from Pacific Boychoir Academy. 

Shostokovich's Fifth Symphony was composed under extreme duress in the late-30s, after his critical derision over the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for its open modernism, and the downfall of one of his most powerful patrons. Withdrawing his Fourth Symphony during rehearsal, he substituted the Fifth, which condenses his style with maximum ambiguity, accommodating socialist realism interpretations as well as modernistic ones, generalizing his own struggle to one of every person of his time. "There are far more openings for new Shakespeares in today's world," he would say, 30 years later. The music quotes a song of his from a Pushkin poem and a personally significant passage from Bizet's Carmen. 

Carneiro has called Debussy's piece one of "dreaming and seduction" and mentioned Shostakovich as a favorite of hers. 

Last month's concert, excellently led by guest conductor Jayce Ogren, featured Lei Liang's Verge and a wonderful, dense rendering of Sibelius' Fifth Symphony, bookending Berkeley pianist Sarah Cahill's extraordinary interpretation of the late Bay Area composer Lou Harrison's too-seldom played Piano Concerto, using one of Harrison's own octave blocks in that vigorous piece, backed by an orchestra that sounds finer with every concert. 

$20-$60. 841-2800;