Seattle Symphony

Ravel’s Bolero hypnotizes not only because of its sultry (but unyielding) tempo or languid tune, but because that tune repeats—and repeats—with only the instrumentation changing. Philip Glass, too, learned how to make a lot from a little, building his chugging, brightly colored Violin Concerto from steady rhythms, simple harmonies, and melodies clearly outlining those harmonies. Bizet also constructed much of the first movement of his Symphony in C (written at age 17) from simple outlined chords, do-mi-sol patterns kittenishly bouncing up and down. He, too, knew how to recycle and transform; in the scherzo he uses the same main melody for the A and B sections, like Ravel changing only the orchestration. And once Rossini hit on a surefire template for his opera overtures, he saw no reason not to reuse it; for his Semiramide overture, he took a new bolt of cloth but cut it out in the same pattern as many of the others. Four composers who, one way or another, took a highly economical, even parsimonious, approach to music-making: I wonder if these resemblances were deliberate on guest conductor Riccardo Frizza’s part, or coincidental, when he was programming tonight’s Seattle Symphony concert? The SSO’s Elisa Barston is the solo violinist in the Glass. GAVIN BORCHERT

Thu., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 20, 8 p.m., 2010

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow