Concert Prep

Concert Prep: Albany Symphony Orchestra presents Dvorak’s Stabat Mater

Albany Symphony Orchestra

David Alan Miller, Music Director

Albany Pro Musica

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Albany, NY

Saturday April 5th 7:30PM

Antonin Dvorak: Stabat Mater

This concert is very unusual for several reasons. For one, it is being held in a cathedral, not in Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, or in the Albany Symphony’s home, the Palace Theater. For another, this concert will be performed without intermission, and will feature just the one, lonely work. All because of the work being presented this evening – Antonin Dvorak’s setting of the ancient text Stabat Mater Dolorosa. The cathedral we are playing in will hopefully enhance the cathedral that Dvorak built with his music. Our hope is that the omission of an intermission will likewise enhance the experience of concertgoers – transporting them to an entirely different world than they might be expecting at a typical concert.

This work is unlike any other work of Dvorak’s that I’ve heard. Most of the hallmarks that I’ve come to associate with him – chaotic rhythms, complex instrumental writing, and the usage of traditional Czech dances – have been set aside here. The mood is somber, and mournful, as befits the text. Just looking at the tempo markings for each of the ten movements should give the listener an idea of the meditative quality of the work.

  1. Andante con moto
  2. Andante sostenuto
  3. Andante con moto
  4. Largo
  5. Andante con moto, quasi allegretto
  6. Andante con moto
  7. Largo
  8. Larghetto
  9. Andante maestoso
  10. Andante con moto

This work appears to emerge from out of nowhere. Try listening to the first minute or so of music with your eyes closed, and see where the music takes you. One of the things that makes the music seem untethered, is the fact that the first note you hear – F-sharp – is not the root of the music. The music is in the key of B-minor, and it’s almost a full minute of music before we start to hear a consistent B. The falling line in the violins touches on B at the bottom, but jumps off immediately, almost frightened. You can almost hear the music weeping for Mary as she stands beside the cross. Fear not though, not all will be sorrow this evening. The musical highlights will include gorgeous solo duets in the second movement, a swaying, relieving choral movement, one of the most uplifting tenor solos you’ll ever hear, and a triumphant ascendance into Heaven in the end.

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted evening, you’d probably be better served by going to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you’d prefer to have your soul rended, repaired, and redeemed, be sure to be at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 7:30.

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