The Columbia Orchestra will commence its 26th season Saturday evening at Jim Rouse Theatre and, fitting for this time of year, a pair of autumnal masterworks will dominate the proceedings.
"Each is an extraordinary valedictory statement," says conductor Jason Love of Tchaikovsky's final work, the alternately graceful and brooding 6th Symphony, subtitled Pathetique, and Elgar's grand, noble and deeply felt Cello Concerto, the last major composition by the English master.
"Both pieces contain interludes of grief," says Love, who begins his fifth year at the Columbia helm with this weekend's concert, "but each has its share of gorgeous, even fun, moments."
Rounding out the program will be another English work, Britten's Russian Funeral, a moody, brass-dominated piece that pays homage to the United Kingdom's wind band tradition.
The soloist for this season-opening Masterworks One concert will be Dariusz Skoraczewski, third-chair cellist in the reconfigured cello section of conductor Yuri Temirkanov's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
A graduate of Baltimore's Peabody Institute, where he was a colleague of Love (another cellist), Skoraczewski has been principal cellist and resident guest artist with such ensembles as the Montgomery Symphony, the Alexandria Symphony and the Santa Barbara Symphony in California.
A semifinalist at the 11th Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Skoraczewski was a prize winner at the 2001 Leonard Rose Competition.
"He's an amazing player who blends impeccable technique with real passion," says Love. "His approach creates just the right emotional sensibility for Elgar."
Composed in the sober aftermath of World War I, the Elgar concerto occupies pride of place in the cello repertoire alongside the popular concerto of Dvorak.
Elgar's work is full of languorous melodies, elegiac sentiments and conflicting moods ranging from confident swagger to the depths of despair.
The concerto brings to mind the composer's musical philosophy.
"My idea," Elgar once said, "is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require."
A similar generosity of spirit informs the Pathetique.
"Music is not illusion, but revelation," Tchaikovsky said, and his valedictory symphony reveals the most honest and turbulent of human emotions with startling intensity.
From the brooding bassoon solo that opens the work to the ingeniously off-centered waltz that isn't a waltz because it has five beats to the bar, to the mystery-laden closing measures that die away with such ineffable sadness, Pathetique is a deeply felt and much-loved work truly unlike any other.
"Oh, how difficult it is to make anyone see and feel in music what we see and feel ourselves," Tchaikovsky lamented.
Difficult, yes, but he did it as well as anyone.
The Columbia Orchestra will present its Masterworks One concert program of works by Britten, Elgar and Tchaikovsky at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for students up to age 24. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Reservations: 410-381- 2004 or www.columbia orchestra.org.