An American Dream on Two Pianos
16:30 – 17:30
Free entry €
Yrkeshögskolan Novia, Yrkeshögskolan Centria
The land of jazz, Hollywood and musicals is featured at Schauman Hall on February 10 in a spectacular rendition on two pianos with two special guests from Romania presenting a piano-mania evening!
Leonard Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (arr. by John Musto) (~ 22 mins):
Bernstein and his friends Jerome Robbins (the choreographer) and Arthur Laurents (the librettist) batted around the idea of creating a modern-day musical retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set amid the tensions of rival social groups in modern New York City, specifically the Jets and the Latino Sharks, featuring the old and the new world.
From the Old World tradition came complicated vocal ensembles and the idea of the leit-motif as it can be heard from the Prologue, associated with the reality of gang-violence.
From the New World came the jazz and Latin timbres and figurations (most of the dance music).
The musical West Side Story was brought to life in 1957 and in 1961 the composer came back to it and extracted nine sections from the score to assemble into what he called the Symphonic Dances. Bernstein’s colleagues Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal, who had just completed the orchestration of West Side Story for its film version, suggested appropriate sections of the score to Bernstein, who placed them not in the order in which they occur in the musical but instead in a new, uninterrupted sequence derived from a strictly musical rationale. As described by composer Jack Gottlieb, these are as follows:
Prologue (Allegro moderato) The growing rivalry between two teenage gangs the Jets and the Sharks.
Somewhere (Adagio) In a dream ballet, the two gangs are united in friendship.
Scherzo (Vivace e leggiero) In the same dream, the gangs break away from the city walls, suddenly finding themselves in a playful world of space, air, and sun.
Mambo (Meno Presto) In the real world again, the competitive dance at the gym between the gangs.
Cha-cha (Andantino con grazia) The star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria see each other for the first time; they dance together.
Meeting Scene (Meno mosso) Music accompnies their first words spoken to one another.
Cool Fugue (Allegretto) An elaborate dance sequence in which Riff leads the Jets in harnessing their impulsie hostility, figuratively ”cooling their jets.”
Rumble (Molto allegro) Climactic gang battle; the two gang leaders, Riff and Bernardo, are killed.
Finale (Adagio) Maria’s I Have a Love develops into a procession, which recalls the vision of Somewhere.
Percy Grainger – Fantasy on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (~20 mins)
The story of ‘Porgy and Bess’ follows the life of Porgy, a crippled, black street-beggar in Charleston and his attempts to rescue Bess from her abusive ex-lover, Crown. Gershwin described his composition as a ‘folk opera’, meaning it incorporated characteristics of African-American music of the time as well as attempting to portray the cultural and social issues of the time. The original novel and the opera have both attracted many different adaptations, both in literary and musical forms. This particular arrangement by the Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger arranges nine of the universally loved songs (such as Summertime, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and others) from the original opera into a virtuosic fantasy for two pianos.