An American Valentine
Naples Philharmonic Masterworks
Jeffrey Kahane, conductor and piano
Gershwin — Promenade
Gershwin — Piano Concerto in F
Adams — Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra
Bernstein — Fancy Free
The Naples Philharmonic is sending the audience a Valentine of stirring music by American composers with Jeffrey Kahane as piano soloist and conductor. The program begins with a brief piece from Gershwin’s score of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film Shall We Dance. Perhaps better known as Walking the Dog, because that’s the onscreen imagery it accompanies, Prelude offers a buoyant entry into the rest of the evening’s performance. It’s followed up by Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, his first serious attempt at classical composition.
Commissioned by the New York Symphony Orchestra after conductor Walter Damrosch heard the debut performance of Gershwin’s famous Rhapsody in Blue, the piano concerto was the product of Gershwin’s singular musical ideas and a cram session of classical theory. Blending the classical form with Tin Pan Alley and jazz, the work drew wide praise from audiences when it debuted in 1925 but more mixed reviews from critics. Famously, Igor Stravinsky loved the work, while Sergei Rachmaninoff hated it.
The second half of the concert presents two very different works on the themes of dance and passion. John Adams described The Chairman Dances as a separate musical response to his 1985 opera Nixon in China. Subtitled Foxtrot for Orchestra, the piece envisions Chairman Mao and his then mistress, later wife, Chaing Ch’ing, dancing together after she gatecrashes a presidential banquet. As they dance he is transported back to his younger days.
The exuberance and fleeting nature of young lust during World War II serve as the influence for Bernstein’s Fancy Free, originally composed for a Jerome Kerns ballet of the same name. The music follows three sailors on shore leave as they compete over a string of women they meet while carousing in New York City. The music, which owes a heavy debt to jazz and the rhythms of the city, follows their impulses, romantic and otherwise.
Equally at home at the keyboard or on the podium, Jeffrey Kahane has established an international reputation as a truly versatile artist, recognized by audiences around the world for his mastery of a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin, Golijov and John Adams.
Since making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1983, Mr. Kahane has given recitals in many of the nation’s major music centers including New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. He appears as soloist with major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and is also a popular figure at all of the major US summer festivals. Kahane is equally well-known for his collaborations with artists and chamber ensembles such as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Joshua Bell, Thomas Quasthoff and the Emerson and Takacs Quartets.
Jeffrey Kahane made his conducting debut at the Oregon Bach Festival in 1988. Since then, he has guest conducted many of the major US orchestras such as the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Dallas and New World symphonies among others. Currently in his 18th season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Kahane concluded his tenure as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony in June 2010 and for ten seasons was Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, where he is now Conductor Laureate. He has received much recognition for his innovative programming and commitment to education and community involvement with all three orchestras and received ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming for his work in both Los Angeles and Denver.
A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mr. Kahane's early piano studies were with Howard Weisel and Jakob Gimpel. First Prize winner at the 1983 Rubinstein Competition and a finalist at the 1981 Van Cliburn Competition, he was also the recipient of a 1983 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the first Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award in 1987. An avid linguist who reads widely in a number of ancient and modern languages, Mr. Kahane received a Master’s Degree in Classics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011.
This performance is sponsored by: