By Fredric Dannen
Edvard Grieg may be Norway’s most famous composer, but he is principally famous for only a few works, among them his Peer Gynt Suite and 66 Lyric Pieces for piano solo. Unlike his Nordic contemporary, the symphonist Jean Sibelius, Grieg was at his best as a miniaturist; indeed, some of the Lyric Pieces run under a minute. Grieg had a gift for melody and was a formidable concert pianist. It is only natural, then, that Grieg’s most enduring work in sonata form, a piece that runs over a half hour with unflagging drama, lyricism, and melodic richness, should be his one piano concerto, which he composed at age 24. It is in A minor, the same key as Robert Schumann’s only piano concerto, an equally popular work.
If you are producing a concert and want to give the public a creditable performance of the Grieg concerto, you had best have a virtuoso pianist with great stamina, and a full-sized orchestra, complete with doubled flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, and trombones, and—as anyone familiar with the dramatic opening of the concerto can tell you—timpani.
Luckily for local classical music lovers, the Festival de Música de Cámara de San Miguel is producing just such a concert on Thursday, December 1, at 7pm, at San Francisco Church, on the corner of San Francisco and Juarez. Tickets are 650 and 500 pesos, and can be purchased at the church office, at the door of the concert, or online at festivalsanmiguel.com.
The piano soloist is Javier García Lascurain, an international touring artist born in 1979 in Mexico City. After winning first place in the Esperanza Cabrera State Piano Competition in Querétaro, García Lascurain continued his studies on scholarship at Laval University in Quebec, where his principal teacher was Arturo Nieto Dorantes, perhaps the finest Mexican-born pianist of his generation. García Lascurain has dedicated a large part of his career to chamber music, as well as performing as a solo recitalist in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Spain.
Garcia Lascurain is accompanied by La Orquesta Sinfónica de las Artes, a symphonic ensemble out of Guanajuato, forged by Dr Luis Flores Villagómez out of leading instrumentalists in the region, retired masters, and advanced conservatory-trained students of music. The conductor is Victor Hugo Ramos Fonseca, who founded San Miguel’s youth orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de San Miguel de Allende, and who joined the board of the San Miguel Chamber Music Festival earlier this year.
The Grieg concerto is by no means the only reason to attend this concert. The orchestra, under Ramos’ baton, will also be performing Music for the Royal Fireworks by George Frideric Handel, and one of the supreme masterpieces of music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
La Orquesta Sinfónica de las Artes, with Javier García Lascurain, piano soloist
Thur, Dec 1, 7pm
Iglesia de San Francisco
Tickets at the church office or at the door of the concert