This evening of East Meets West opens with Charles Tomlinson Griffes’s tone poem “The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan,” inspired by the unfinished poem by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The work, which came to Griffes in a dream, evokes images taken from Coleridge’s excerpt of a “sunny dome” and “caves of ice.”
While many composers of Western classical music have looked to exotic lands for inspiration, Reena Esmail’s Indian musical roots let her look West and East for her compositions. Esmail says of her Clarinet Concerto, “Hindustani music is an aural tradition: the nuance of a phrase is picked up through call and response, by hearing and repeating. In both movements of this concerto, the melodies that start in the clarinet eventually find their way into the orchestra. The aural transfer of these melodies to the western musicians is embedded in the piece itself, and the exchange of musical cultures is taking place in real time, before your ears.” Dayton Philharmonic Principal Clarinet John Kurokawa takes the spotlight for this imaginative work.
For several Western classical composers, Vienna was the nexus of East-West interactions due to the two Turkish sieges of the city, which, led (once the danger was over) to a Viennese fascination with all things Turkish. After his move from his birthplace of Salzburg to Vienna, Mozart pulled from this Turkish influence, using a Turkish harem as the setting for his first big-hit opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio. This influence also appears in his use of Turkish percussion instruments in the overture of this delightful songspiel.
Strauss’s beautiful Suite from Der Rosenkavalier crowns this enchanting Masterworks concert, with ravishing melodies and seductive waltzes that transport audiences to Vienna’s opulent golden age.