Allison Park

This Friday, principal conductor Peter Oundjian will lead the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of Zoltán Kodály’s “Dances of Galánta,” Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 featuring Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner MUS ’20 on piano. Unlike most Philharmonia concerts, which take place in the vast Woolsey Hall, Friday night’s performance will take place in Morse Recital Hall — housed within Sprague Memorial Hall on College Street — and will offer a more intimate listening experience for audience members.

“For us, it’s a different experience with the audience because it’s a lot closer and a more intimate space,” said concertmaster Kate Arndt MUS ’19. “I think it gives [the orchestra] more freedom, actually, because we don’t have to worry about the projection of all of our emotions — overdoing things. It’s more about creating something intimate and bringing the audience into the experience.”

The Philharmonia performs in Sprague Hall only once a year, making for “a very different experience” than playing in the 2,650-person capacity of Woolsey Hall, according to Arndt.

Cellist Valentina Crnjak MUS ’19 agreed with Arndt. She said that Sprague “makes the experience more intimate, and it invites audience right into the scene.”

The evening will open with 20th-century Hungarian composer Kodály’s 16-minute work “Dances of Galánta.” The piece, which was composed in 1933, was commissioned for the 80th anniversary of the Budapest Philharmonic Society and draws inspiration from the folk music of Slovakia.

“Hungarian music also has a very unique style with distinctive rhythm and melodies, which are always exciting to listen to,” said Crnjak. Originally from Croatia, Crnjak finds this music with its Slavic roots “familiar, yet full of intricacies and musical challenges to meet.”

The Mozart piano concerto will follow the Kodály. Originally composed in 1785, the premiere performance of this three-movement work took place in Vienna with Mozart himself as the soloist.

Some concertos with a solo instrumentalist include a moment during which the orchestra stops playing, leaving the soloist to perform a short unaccompanied solo, known as a cadenza. In Mozart’s 20th piano concerto, performers can write or improvise their cadenzas. Alternatively, for this piano concerto, the soloists can select cadenzas written by well-known composers Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann.

In Friday’s performance, Sanchez-Werner, a School of Music artist-diploma candidate and student of School of Music professor Boris Berman, will present his take on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, featuring his own cadenzas.

Though Sanchez-Werner described creating his own cadenza as a “daunting” task, he views this section as an opportunity to incorporate “a personal statement.”

“I think that expressing something in your own words can be just as meaningful as expressing the words of great composers,” he said. “I try to stay stylistically true to the Mozart concerto, which is the real challenge.”

Oundjian said that “there is no greater pleasure than either conducting, playing or listening to a great Mozart concerto.” He noted that of the multiple Mozart piano concertos, he considers the 20th to be “one of the greatest.” While most of Mozart’s concertos use a major key, the 20th concerto centers on the key of D minor. According to Oundjian, this key provides “a much darker kind of atmosphere than almost any of the other concertos.”

Sanchez-Werner credits his professor with making an “indelible impact on [Sanchez-Werner’s] artistry.”

“I think that the Mozart Piano Concerto can be a deeply intimate experience because the pianists will play with a sound that will hopefully really draw in the listener,” said Sanchez-Werner.

He said the piece contains a “great deal of drama in between and around every note and every color.” Sanchez-Werner noted that it is a “major fallacy that sometimes [Mozart’s] music is thought of as merely pretty or beautiful.”

The evening will conclude with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 in D major. This 40-minute symphony, which premiered in Prague in 1881, incorporates Czech musical styles and was one of Dvorak’s first symphonic works to achieve critical acclaim and international recognition.

The performance will take place on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Sprague Memorial Hall.

Allison Park |