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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Strauss Headlines A Transformative Concert Sunday

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Wikimedia Commons
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“As a horn player, I love [Richard] Strauss,” says David Mairs, who’ll be conducting the Mid-Texas Symphony this weekend in a concert featuring the German master. The concert also includes music by Mozart, and Samuel Barber, whose First Essay For Orchestra is perfectly paired with the closing work, Strauss’s Death And Transfiguration.

“I like the first two essays of Barber. But to me, [they] end musically with a question,” Mairs explains. “Strauss leaves you with an answer.”

Musically, Mairs explains, the piece’s “triumphant” chords and chord progression have a sense of release and finality that is beautifully set up.

“When he wants to end it,” Mairs says with a smile, “[Strauss] takes you through two or three of what we call ‘deceptive cadences.’” That’s a term used in music to describe the way a songwriter or composer will play with your expectations of what chord is supposed to come next. “You get it three times, but the first three times, it’s the wrong chord! When you finally get that ‘re-do,’ it’s a beautiful answer, and the orchestra likes to play it.” [Hear examples in the audio sample at the bottom of this story.]

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Credit Nathan Cone / TPR
David Mairs

Richard Strauss wrote Death and Transfiguration early in life, but famously remarked as he lay on his deathbed in 1949, “dying is just the way I composed it.”

The concert will open with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Winds, which will feature “four amazing players” from the orchestra, says Mairs. Flutist Rita Linard, oboist Jennifer Berg, bassoonist Jonathan Castillo, and horn soloist Libby Barnette.

The Mid-Texas Symphony performs on Sunday, April 10 at 4 p.m. at Canyon High School in New Braunfels. Tickets are available online at mtsymphony.org.