Grammy-winning violist to play with Boulder Phil

Richard O’Neill of the Takacs Quartet will play Walton Concerto Saturday

By Peter Alexander Might 12 at 1:20 p.m.

Richard O’Neill

It was in the course of the pandemic and a large blizzard when Richard O’Neill gained a Grammy award. 

The Grammy awarded in 2021 was for his recording of the Viola Concerto by American composer Christopher Theofanidis—throughout the identical 12 months that he joined the Takács Quartet, moved to Boulder and joined the CU college. “This has been an extended haul,” he mentioned on the time. 

Hopefully, issues are nearer to no matter will be known as regular for a performing musician/recording artist, as O’Neill takes the stage Saturday (Might 14) to carry out William Walton’s Viola Concerto with the Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman (live performance particulars beneath; tickets right here).

A demanding and dramatic work. Walton’s concerto was composed in 1929, when the composer was 27 years outdated, and premiered that 12 months by the composer/violist Paul Hindemith. Since then it has turn out to be one of many landmarks of the viola repertoire.

Composer Anna Clyne has drawn on a wide range of sources for inspiration in her compositions, from the work of Mark Rothko to music by Beethoven. Her Sound and Fury was impressed by Shakespeare’s soliloquy for Macbeth and by Haydn’s uncommon and quirky six-movement Symphony No. 60, Il distratto (The distracted one), which started as incidental music for a comic book play.

Anna Clyne. Picture by Jennifer Taylor.

In a program notice, Clyne wrote: “My intention with Sound and Fury is to take the listener on a journey that’s each invigorating—with ferocious string gestures which can be flung across the orchestra—and reflective—with haunting melodies that emerge and recede.”

Sir Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Unique Theme, often called the “Enigma Variations” from the phrase Elgar wrote on the prime of the rating, stays probably the most standard works within the orchestral repertoire, greater than 120 years after its premiere. Every of the 14 variations has an inscription that refers to certainly one of Elgar’s buddies. 

These topics of the person variations have been recognized. The bigger enigma, nonetheless, is what Elgar wrote in his program notice: “The Enigma I cannot clarify. Its ‘darkish saying’ should be left unguessed. . . . Over the entire set one other and bigger theme ‘goes,’ however is just not performed.”

Whether or not that “bigger theme” is a musical or a philosophical one is without doubt one of the many mysteries that encompass the piece. Guesses as to the musical theme have ranged from “Rule Britannia” to “Pop Goes the Weasel” to Luther’s “A Would possibly Fortress is Our God,” to Liszt’s Les Preludes, none of which have satisfied a majority of musical students.

And in order that enigma stays unsolved. Be happy to go to the live performance and devise your individual answer.

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Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Butterman, conductor
With Richard O’Neill, viola

  • Anna Clyne: Sound and Fury
  • William Walton: Viola Concerto
  • Elgar: Enigma Variations

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Might 14
Macky Auditorium