Stellar turns on ‘Twinkle’
Mozart didn't write "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but he made it immensely popular with his "twinkle" piano variations. The song is rooted in French nursery rhymes. In fact, where I grew up it is known as "Ah, Vous Dirais-Je Maman?" or "Ah, Mommy, Shall I Tell You?"
In concert: 8 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Sunday
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $22 to $73
Call: 792-2000 or Ticketmaster, 877-750-4400
Mozart wasn't the only composer to expand on the melody. The Hungarian composer Dohnanyi gave it grandiose treatment in 1913. The composer was also an esteemed pianist with a flair for showmanship. Under his hand the tune is no longer a lullaby, but a Romantic concerto for piano and orchestra, a la Rachmaninoff. Imagine transforming a canoe into an ocean liner and you'll get my point.
Pianist Fabio Bidini will take on the challenge dared by few artists. You or I could play the simple theme, but beyond that? The work requires impeccable technique, with tongue-in-cheek humor sprinkled throughout.
A native of Italy, Bidini established his career by winning eight international competitions, including the Van Cliburn. He is also an active conductor but will let Japanese conductor Heiichiro Ohyama share center stage this weekend.
Audiences have an easier time assessing the skills of a soloist than a conductor. I've heard many times, "Does the orchestra really need a leader? Could you play by yourselves?"
Can a basketball team play without a coach? We would do fine on our own, but a conductor helps tie up the loose ends and, more important, greatly enhances the mood of an evening.
I encourage everyone to carefully observe our guest conductors this season. Each brings a different strength to the podium. Do you feel more pathos with some than others? Do the conductor's gestures translate into an emotional bond with the orchestra, or are they just for show? That's the key. You can practice flailing your arms all you want, but before an orchestra and audience, it's all about personal connection.
Maestro Ohyama's talent will be fully appreciated in the "Enigma" Variations, written in 1899 by British composer Edward Elgar.
The work consists of a theme, or enigma, followed by 13 variations, each a musical description of Elgar's entourage. No. 1 features smooth and melodic lines, a portrait of his wife. No. 11, with its raucous chords, depicts a friend's bulldog. But Elgar gave no clear indication as to the meaning of the enigma. Could it be himself, or is it some sort of ideal? Let us know what you think.
By the way, the French version of "Twinkle" is about a child complaining to her mom about her dad, who wants her to eat soup and meat. She would rather eat candy. I guess it always comes down to cuisine with the French.
Ignace "Iggy" Jang
is the Honolulu Symphony's concertmaster. His column will appear on the Monday prior to each concert of the season to illuminate works to be performed. E-mail comments and questions to Jang at firstname.lastname@example.org