Conductor and Music Director candidate Jacob Joyce shares a collection of recordings on his #SpotifySaturdays playlist prior to his appearance with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra at Hill Auditorium. Joyce conducts a program of Michael Kropf’s High Spirits, Robert Schumann’s Adventlied and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. by Ravel) on November 12, 2021.
“I built this playlist to be a sort of “musical introduction” to my program with the Ann Arbor Symphony in November. To start, I have included pieces by three of the major composers on the program: Schumann, Mussorgsky, and Ravel.
Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke was written around the same time as his Adventlied, which I will be performing with the A2SO. It is one of my favorite pieces Schumann ever wrote, filled with his typical whimsy and restrained passion. The Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov’s Opera in Four Acts With a Prologue shares many characteristics with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, both of which blend Russian folk music idioms with an adventurous harmonic palate. I also included the final movement from Maurice Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole, to demonstrate the composer’s masterful orchestrational touch which he also brought to the version of Pictures at an Exhibition that we will perform in November.
After these pieces, I have chosen a few selections that I hope will supplement each piece on the November program. First, to highlight Michael Kropf’s High Spirits, I have included three works that remind me of Kropf’s minimalist, colorful style: Anna Clyne’s Dance, John Adams’s Tromba Lontana, and Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, which I was lucky enough to perform with the A2SO in the spring. To shed some light on Schumann’s mysterious Adventlied, I have included three cantatas from different periods of music history: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Herz und Mund und Tatperform und Leben, also written for Advent, Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Creation, which includes some incredible arias for soprano, just like Adventlied, and Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, written in a neo-baroque style that features some stunning choral passages like the one included in the playlist.To supplement Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, originally written for piano, I included a similarly virtuosic piece for piano written by another member of the Russian “Five,” Mily Balakirev. I also included a piece I enjoy called Finding Rothko by Adam Schoenberg, which is similarly inspired by a set of paintings.
As my special encore, I added a song from one of my favorite non-classical artists, Snarky Puppy. I am consistently amazed with the complexity, variety, and creativity of their music, which I find to be created with a similar attention to detail that classical musicians are accustomed to. This particular song, Lingus by Snarky Puppy, is one a friend showed me recently, and I find it particularly enjoyable to listen to.”