Dreams and nostalgia at the BPO with Mahler, Barber and Vaughan Williams - The Buffalo News

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Dreams and nostalgia at the BPO with Mahler, Barber and Vaughan Williams

This weekend, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is presenting a concert full of dreams. It culminates in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, a masterpiece that is easy to love. The symphony is best known for a singsong paean to the joys of heaven, which will be sung by soprano Heidi Grant Murphy. With words from German folk poetry, the song has its grotesque aspects (think of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales). Mahler’s music, however, embraces its humanity. The symphony also is famous for one of the most beautiful slow movements in any of Mahler’s symphonies.

A different sort of masterpiece, dreamy in a different way, precedes the Mahler. While Mahler’s symphony looks forward humorously to the afterlife, Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” looks backward, tenderly, to a time and place that are gone forever. Murphy also is the soloist in this work. It was commissioned in the 1940s by the Metropolitan Opera soprano Eleanor Steber and centers on a prose poem by James Agee. Besides nostalgia for Knoxville in 1915, it carries notes of nostalgia for Buffalo in 2004: The BPO performed this piece on its emotional trip to Carnegie Hall 10 years ago.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Overture to “The Wasps” opens the concert, which is conducted by BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta.

The concert takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission is $28-$76. For more information, call 885-5000.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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