New Classical Tracks

Conductor JoAnn Falletta embraces the seasons

A photo collage featuring conductor JoAnn Falletta.Courtesy of the artist

New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta (Extended)


August 11, 2021
New Classical Tracks - JoAnn Falletta

JoAnn Falletta & the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — The Four Seasons / The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Beau Fleuve)

When the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra took the stage for their season opening concert last September, there was no audience in the hall due to the pandemic. Their loyal fans were watching the concert online. 

Conductor JoAnn Falletta had to switch gears quickly.

“Initially, we had a very big concert, and we pull out all the stops when we give our opening,” she said. “But, of course, that was not possible. We decided that the most thrilling thing we could do for our audience was to feature Nikki Chooi, our new concertmaster, performing The Four Seasons.”

That performance is featured on their latest recording, The Four Seasons / The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

Why was it important to include The Four Seasons? 

“It had to do with Chooi's performance of it, which was thrilling. He puts his own 21st-century voice into it. He was reveling, seeing a sense of humor and loving the music. But, he was not burdened by past performances. He was playing from his heart.

“This piece was written almost 300 years ago, and it is still relevant. The coming alive in the spring, the voices of the birds, the summer thunderstorms and the drinking wine is affirming to us about how we understand Antonio Vivaldi. We felt that we had a connection with that music, because it gave us a feeling that life would go on. We can get through this.”

What made guest violinist Tessa Lark a good fit for Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires?

“It’s about the composer’s background. Piazzolla’s family were immigrants who moved to Argentina from Italy. He also grew up in Harlem during the jazz era. He studied with Alberto Ginastera and went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. Piazzolla is a complex prism of music, and Lark is the same.

“She not only plays classical, but she also plays bluegrass and jazz. Her loose and comfortable approach to playing Piazzolla made it really swing.

“The composer said the tango is a sad feeling disguised as a dance. He knew it was the music of immigrants and poor people who knew they would never go home again. But in the tango, they found their soul. They found a way of understanding themselves. Piazzolla knew the sad core of the tango, and Lark was able to bring that to life.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


JoAnn Falletta & the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra — The Four Seasons / The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (BPO Store)

JoAnn Falletta (official site)