Next week, Concertmaster Yoonshin Song takes center stage in Astor Piazzolla’s show-stopping, tango-infused “Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires)”—inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons—in Mozart + Piazzolla, led by Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. We talked with Yoonshin ahead of her solo, discussing the music, her rehearsal approach, and working together with Orozco-Estrada again as he returns for the first time since the pandemic.
Houston Symphony: What are you most looking forward to about performing this piece? Have you performed this piece before?
Yoonshin Song: I have played the piece only once in the past, so it’s very interesting to spend time with it again and see it with different eyes or rather, hear it with different ears, after a few years have passed.
HS: Piazzolla is known for bringing tango into the orchestra world. When listening to this piece, it’s almost as if the orchestra is caught in a tango with the soloist. Has your rehearsal approach changed at all when preparing for this type of performance?
YS: I have been listening to Piazzolla’s music in general recently, to get as close as possible to his language, and I have been watching his own performances (playing the bandoneon). The more I am in contact with these elements, the more opportunities I can see to be free within his music. In terms of playing with the orchestra, we will see when the first rehearsal comes. There is a very dynamic relationship between the solo and the orchestral parts, sometimes they complete each other, sometimes they fight. And I’m looking forward to this roller coaster ride.
Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino
HS: Do you feel yourself moving differently when performing this piece? Why is it so exciting?
YS: In terms of physical movements, the technical demands of the violin are always setting some limitations to how “freely” one can move while playing. But…on another dimension, Piazzolla’s music has its unique language that captures people’s ears instantly—it almost gives you a feeling that you have known his music even before you hear it for the first time. It is also very different than the music we normally play, like Beethoven or Brahms, so the answer to your question could be yes, moving differently, but internally.
HS: What do you hope audiences feel after hearing the piece?
YS: This piece has a journey-like quality, sometimes taking you to a dream and to places outside your everyday reality. I think this is much needed these days and I hope that the listeners can forget their worries for a bit and just get lost in this wonderful music.
HS: Andrés will be returning to conduct at this concert—his first time back to Houston since February 2020. How does it feel to be working together again after an intense year?
YS: I am looking forward to playing with him again and especially this piece. He comes from where this music was born, so it must be in his blood…I am very interested to see his natural approach to it.