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Girl Power Plus once again at BPO classics concert at Kleinhans

An opening work by (Ms.) Germaine Tailleferre, followed by the first of two haunting works on the program by French composer Florent Schmitt featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Platts as well as the Buffalo Girlchoir, in a concert led by guest Concertmaster Jennifer Linnebach, the big Brahms Violin Concerto performed by Sarah Chang, all conducted by JoAnn Falletta… can you guess that March is Women’s History Month?

Okay, you say, so the program had socio-economic-political-cultural significance in the early 21st century, and I’m glad that the BPO is “woke” as far as gender parity. But what about the music? Oh yeah. Thanks for asking. It was great. Read on.

You might not be familiar with some of the names, so JoAnn Falletta made a little video to explain the concert.

I can tell you that if you love the music of Debussy (“Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” “The Sea”) or any of the “French Impressionists” then you will love the music of Florent Schmitt. In fact, he was a friend of Ravel and Satie. If you’d like to know a little more, here some members of the BPO describe the music of Florent Schmitt.

And you can listen to samples from a BPO recording of Schmitt’s music on the Naxos label, even as the orchestra is planning another CD featuring Florent Schmitt in the future!

Certain conductors excel at certain kinds of music, and any music composed around 1900, plus or minus 30 years, is, as we’ve often said, right in Falletta’s wheelhouse. And if it’s French music, well, “fuhgeddaboudit.” Just sit back at let it happen.

The opening music by Tailleferre [say “tie-FAIR”] was more in line with the cheeky French music of Tailleferre’s fellow members of “Les Six,” particularly Poulenc’s chamber music and Milhaud’s jazzy “Le bœuf sur le toit” or “Scaramouche.”

So when you go this afternoon, the first half of the 1 hour 50 minute concert will be very French, both audacious and impressionist/mystical/symbolist. And then the second half of the concert, after intermission, offers something completely different, a towering work of German classicism, Brahms’ Violin Concerto, with Sarah Chang as soloist.

She was a child prodigy, the Korean born American violinist Sarah Chang, and, not unlike another violin prodigy, Midori, she has never slowed down. In fact, with 20 CDs under her belt, she just gets better. But here’s the thing and the reason you should go to Kleinhans this afternoon. You may have heard of the great 20th century violinists of the past –  Jascha Heifetz (1901-1974), Nathan Milstein (1904-1992), and David Oistrakh (1908-1974) – but you probably never got to hear them live. But you can hear them live today, all three, channeled through one performer, Sarah Chang.

And the orchestra? Right there with her. Falletta has often talked about the “muscularity” of the BPO, and they certainly have been going to the musical gym. They were right there with her and with Brahms.

Kleinhans Music Hall is located at “3 Symphony Circle” Buffalo, 14201 where Porter Avenue, Richmond Avenue, North Street and Wadsworth meet at a traffic circle. Visit www.bpo.org or call 716-885-5000. The concert starts at 2:30 p.m. but there’s almost always a “Musically Speaking” event an hour before if you want to learn more about the players. And, after the concert, Sarah Chang will be in the lobby to sign CDs.

Lead image: Violinist Sarah Chang courtesy BPO

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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