John Corigliano, born in New York in 1938, displayed a gift for music at an early age, and quickly established an outstanding career as a composer.
“The Conjurer” for Percussion and Orchestra is a commissioned piece dedicated to the deaf percussion virtuoso Evelyn Glennie. In the concert, Corigliano allows the soloist to process the orchestra piece through three “layers” of the percussion: the instruments based on wood, those based on metal, and finally those based on leather. Thus, he establishes a dialogue between the orchestra and the percussion’s great sound spectrum, according to himself as if the soloist (The Conjurer = the magician) turns the wand over the orchestra and changes the sound material in a magical way.
After the break, we take the step back from the magic, and head into the adventurous with the tone-rich “Sheherazade”, written by Russian Nikolaj Rimskij-Korsakov. It is no coincidence that “Sheherazade” became Rimskij-Korsakov’s most famous work, and one of the most spectacular pieces found in symphonic repertoire. He grew up in an aristocratic family with long, maritime traditions, and from childbirth he drew a deep fascination for the ocean, closing his books with oriental narratives. After joining the Navy at the age of 12, he studied piano and music at the same time, and it became clear that he was exceptionally musical.
Slowly but surely the music took over. After a three-year voyage with the clipper “Almaz” – where he mostly sat in the cabin and composed – he succumbed himself entirely to the act of composing, and took a professorship at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1888, he conducted the execution of this work, which illustrates all his experiences of a childhood filled with dreams of the sea and the orient, a youth filled with storms and landslides, and the masterful repertoire of magnificent narrative and orchestral art that he acquired as a composer.
Christian Vasquez, conductor
Martin Grubinger, percussion
Corigliano: The Conjurer