A special visitor has reassurances for the denizens of the Mother of Mystics, something especially kind just days removed from pre-Lenten celebrations.
“There are no sudden cymbal crashes and no need for Advil at intermission,” David Amado said. The music director for the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Amado will be the guest conductor for Mobile Symphony Orchestra’s next program, “Mother Goose: Music of Another World” on Feb. 20 and 21.
The titular work is impressionist Maurice Ravel’s musical voyage to a familiar realm of fairies and tiny folk composed for some of his favorite tykes. The Godebski family of Paris were creative folks of modest means who opened their home for regular salons featuring various artists, painters and musicians such as Ravel, Schmitt, Roussel and Toulouse-Lautrec. Ravel wrote a piano duet for their daughters, Mimi and Jean, with themes based on tales such as “Tom Thumb,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
After its 1910 publication, Jacques Charlot transcribed it for solo piano. The following year, Ravel further elaborated upon it, crafting a five-piece suite.
Later in the same year, Ravel expanded it even further. He added four interludes and two movements to transform it into a ballet. In 1975, ballet master Jerome Robbins designed choreography for the piece and premiered a work that was revived in subsequent years.
“The Ravel is petite, delicate and intimate, was love at first hearing for me too. It is musical storytelling at its best — a childlike sense of wonder combined with an adult sense of nostalgia and longing — all wrapped up with Ravel’s distinctive, technicolor style,” Amado said in a news release.
The guest conductor fashioned the show to highlight MSO’s versatility. As suits artistic expression, his emotional connections led the way.
“These are three works I love — a lot. The Brahms resonates deeply for me. It was one of the first works I heard live as a child, and it made a lasting impression — especially the stunning finale,” Amado said.
The rousing ending of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 doesn’t mean it will completely violate Amado’s promise of post-Mardi Gras reverie. Often compared in pastoral tone with Beethoven’s Sixth, the composer found the 1877 work to be introspective.
“[The symphony] is so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it,” Brahms wrote to his publisher. “I have never written anything so sad and the score must come out in mourning.”
The initial movement, an allegro non troppo, is woven with a familiar theme. Though derived from an earlier work, the melodic hook popularly known as “Brahms’ Lullaby” lilts into the sonata a few minutes after its start, then reemerges in various forms throughout the opening section.
MSO will also perform one masterpiece in a series that might be the most fabled in classical music: J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D. Premiering in 1721 after being presented to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, it is assumed much of the Brandenburg material was written earlier, then assembled for its formal debut. Nonetheless the six concertos have become the quintessence of Baroque music.
Though its opening allegro features a lyrical call-and-response interplay between flute and violin — performed in this show by flutist Andra Bohnet and violinist Jenny Gregoire — it’s another instrument that will catch contemporary ears due to its relative rarity. Hedi Salanki-Rubardt is charged with playing the daunting harpsichord solo at the heart of Bach’s composition.
“The Bach balances both Brahms’ richness and Ravel’s supersaturated orchestration with a constant dedication to clarity of line and direct, powerful expressiveness,” Amado said.
The concert will be offered twice: Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2:30 p.m. at downtown’s Saenger Theatre (6 S. Joachim St.).
Tickets are $20-$75 and can be purchased by phone at 251-432-2010, online at mobilesymphony.org or at the symphony box office (257 Dauphin St.). Reduced-price student tickets are available for both performances.
Through the MSO Big Red Ticket program, students in grades K-12 can attend the Sunday performance free when accompanied by a paying adult. More details can be found online at mobilesymphony.org.
The concert is sponsored by the Mobile Symphony Board of Directors and an anonymous donor.