“It's so Spanish; that's why I like it,” a memorable line from the long-running 1960s musical The Fantasticks seems to have inspired creative minds at the Toledo Symphony Orchestra planning the grand finale of the Classics series for this season.
It's surely a first for the TSO in its 66-year history: an entire program of works by Spanish and Mexican composers.
What a dynamic way to end a lovely season — with two passionate and evocative works by Manuel de Falla, Spain's most celebrated composer, and one piece each by Mexican greats Arturo Marquez and Silvestre Revueltas.
Even without the red glow of the Peristyle ceiling, audiences for the Classics IX performances should be basking in Latin heat from the first note to the last.
Returning to Toledo will be Gilmore Award-winning pianist Ingrid Fliter, the Argentinian star discovered by Martha Argerich. Fliter (FLEE-ter) made her debut two seasons ago here, performing Chopin.
This time she'll tango with de Falla's incredibly rich classic suite, “Noches en los jardines de Espana,” (“Nights in the Gardens of Spain”), with the Toledo Symphony.
Premiered in 1915 in Madrid, the work subtitled “Symphonic Impressions for Piano and Orchestra” celebrates the landscape, folk culture, and melodies of the Spanish region Andalusia.
Principal conductor Stefan Sanderling will conduct the entire program and introduce yet another lavish new talent to Toledo: contralto Jennifer Hines.
A Long Island native with bachelor and master's degrees from the Juilliard School, Hines has established herself as a remarkable crossover artist. She appears on the Metropolitan Opera stage and for numerous other operas here and abroad, and has made her mark as a concert singer in major works including Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Verdi's “Manzoni Requiem.”
Her dark, rich voice and dramatic performance style should be a fine fit for the demands of the other de Falla work — the Ballet Suite from “El Amor Brujo” (“Love, the Magician”). Also premiered in 1915, the work, subtitled “Gypsy Life,” is based on a play by Gregorio Martinez Sierra inspired by an Andalusian folk tale.
Opening the program will be the Marquez Danzon No. 2, one of two premieres on the program. Under the spell of the popular dance, the composer sought to capture the sensuality and nostalgia of his countrymen in this work, one a series. In 2006, Marquez was awarded the Gold Medal of Fine Arts by the Mexican government.
And closing the program will be the compelling rhythms and complex harmonies of “La Noche de Lost Mayas” (“The Night of the Mayas”), by Revueltas (1899-1940). Joining the percussion section of the TSO for this finale will be drummers from Bowling Green State University.
The other premiere on this closing program, “La Noche” comprises four separate components expressing the spirit of the ancient Mexican people, their celebrations, the Yucatan peninsula, and a general night of enchantment.
The Toledo Symphony Classics IX concerts will begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets are $20-$50 at 419-246-8000 or toledosymphony.com.
Contact Sally Vallongo at firstname.lastname@example.org.