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Conductor and Music Director candidate Oriol Sans shares a collection of recordings on his #SpotifySaturdays playlist a week prior to his appearance with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra at The Michigan Theater. Sans conducts a program of Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, Mozart’s Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 on January 22, 2022.  For Sans, “the idea behind this playlist was to offer music around the program that we’re about to perform on January 22nd, either because it’s similar to what we’ll be hearing at the concert, or offers a contrast from the same performer or genre”.

Philip Glass: Double Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra: Movement I
Gustavo Dudamel, Katia Labèque, Marielle Labèque, Los Angeles Philharmonic

“There aren’t many concertos for two pianos (or two identical instruments for that matter!), but this more modern example by Philip Glass is one of the handful. It’s fascinating to observe how Glass and Mozart handle the orchestra in different ways: Mozart’s orchestral forces are distinctive from the two pianos and frequently oppose their musical ideas, whereas Glass weaves the soloists into the orchestral texture.”

Ludwig van Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138
Nikolas Harnoncourt, Chamber Orchestra of Europe

“On the topic of opposing forces, here we have Beethoven and opera! Beethoven was adamant that his first (and only) foray into the genre would be a successful one, and composed four overtures in search of the perfect “curtain raiser”. Since we’ll be performing the fourth and final one, I think it’s interesting to see where Beethoven started and how different the two works are.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in E-Flat Major, K. 364: II. Andante
Eric Jacobsen, Lara St. John, Scott St. John, The Knights

“Having performed this work in orchestras when I was younger, I’m in love with it – and the second movement in particular. It shares the same dual soloist setup and year of composition as the Double Piano Concerto, as well as a very similar style, both soloists engaging in lyrical dialogue with each other and the orchestra.”

Dmitri Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony Op. 110a: II. Allegro molto
Yuri Bashmet, Moscow Soloists

“There’s so much to discuss with Shostakovich, and here we have an example of the brutality of the composer’s writing from the late ‘60s. In essence an orchestration of his String Quartet No. 8, here we can appreciate that it’s not necessary to have a massive orchestra at your disposal in order to make an impact.”

Dmitri Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District / Act 1: Interlude
Myung-Whun Chung, Orchestre de l’Opéra Bastille

“Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 was written during the time of terror and fear before the Second World War, and allegedly in response to the harsh criticism and censorship of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District. Given the celebrated positive reception of the symphony, you’d be led to imagine that the two sound worlds are very different. Quite surprisingly, they’re not! What surrounds the music can frequently get the music into trouble and here we have the perfect example of this. Soviet authorities may have been trying to censor the shocking visuals on stage and Shostakovich’s music got caught up in it – how else can we explain the dramatically contrasting receptions to two very similar works?”

Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite: Montagues and Capulets
Riccardo Muti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“Politics and Prokofiev isn’t something we often discuss, certainly not to the level of Shostakovich! Here we return to the theme of opposing forces demonstrated by the warring Montague and Capulet families, and different techniques for conveying tension and drama”

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D Major “Titan”: II. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic

“This is actually the third time I’ve been invited to conduct the Ann Arbor Symphony, with the previous two sadly having been canceled. My original debut with the orchestra was supposed to be with this piece – Mahler 1. When people talk about Shostakovich’s fifth symphony, they frequently neglect the inner movements, and it’s the same for Mahler. There are many shared musical elements here, especially with the ever-present irony and darkness that’s never far away.”

Grażyna Bacewicz: Overture for Symphonic Orchestra
Renato Rivolta, Sinfonia Varsovia

“In contrast to the way Shostakovich’s music frequently mirrors the sombre environment in which it was composed, this fascinating work by Grażyna Bacewicz sounds closer to Mozart in maintaining a sunny exterior devoid of the turmoils within. Composed in 1943 during the German occupation of Poland, you’d struggle to find any musical evidence of the hardships afflicting the composer that forced her to flee Warsaw during the uprising the following year.”

Ludwig Goransson: A Friend – from The Mandalorian, Season 2
“Shostakovich’s music has been very influential; in a way, it has become a language of its own. You’ll instantly recognize the first theme from the opening movement of his fifth symphony in this music from The Mandalorian. I remember watching this last year and instantly being struck by the musical similarities, both in the musical material and how it is used to create an almost torturous tension.”