Musical mural of Finland tops orchestral travelogue


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008

I have been looking forward to this week for a long time and I'm thrilled to be back again with the Honolulu Symphony's superb musicians and wonderful audience.






        » In concert: 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday


» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall


» Tickets: $19 to $70; available at Ticketmaster outlets; (877) 750-4400


» Call: 792-2000 or visit



The featured work on our program—Jean Sibelius' Second Symphony—creates a landscape that is very different from beautiful Hawaii. In fact, it is much more suited to the place where I spend much of my time—Buffalo! But this darkly brooding romantic work will be a gorgeous sonic portrait of Sibelius' beloved home of Finland.

The music epitomizes the character, the history, the stunning physical beauty of this northern country. In his 1901 masterpiece, Sibelius sketches the austere landscapes, endless winter skies, jagged mountains, vast green forests and brilliant northern lights of the country he adored. Filled with an icy passion and a frigid sweetness, this symphony is a romantic tour de force that culminates in an enormous emotional climax. You will never forget the dramatic sweep and passion of this extraordinary masterpiece.

We will be joined by guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin for Joaquin Rodrigo's “;Fantasia para un Gentilhombre”; (Fantasie for a Gentleman). A “;handshake across the centuries,”; this 20th-century piece was inspired by the 17th-century composer and guitarist Gaspar Sanz.

Rodrigo spiced Sanz's ancient dances with sparkling orchestral colors and virtuosic writing for the guitar. Isbin will bring her own brand of “;guitaristic”; magic to the stage, taking the place of the original “;gentleman”; for whom the piece was written, the legendary guitarist Andres Segovia.

  At the beginning of the concert we will treat you to a charming and vibrant collection of Romanian dances from Transylvania. Brimming with energy, buoyant melodies, wistful tunes and rich ornaments, the piece reflects composer Zoltan Kodaly's passion for folk music. He spent several years of his life traveling the countryside in Hungary and Czechoslovakia so that he could learn and assimilate the vibrant music of the peasants. The result will make you smile. You will hardly be able to sit still!

Where can you be whisked from Transylvania to Barcelona to Helsinki, all in two hours? Where can you leave feeling so much happier than when you arrived? Where can you sit in the dark and be swept away by beauty and profound emotion? Only at the Honolulu Symphony!