April has been Big Piano Concerto Month at the St. Louis Symphony. Last week we had Rachmaninoff's daunting "Piano Concerto No. 3" . This week it's the equally intimidating "Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major," Op. 83, written in 1881 by Brahms.
A pair of threes may not be a winning hand at the casino, but it paid off handsomely at Powell Hall Friday night with virtuoso performances by the St. Louis Symphony and guest conductor Vasily Petrenko of Scriabin's "Symphony No. 3," Op. 43 (1902-04) and, with soloist Simon Trpčeski, Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor," Op. 30 (1909) .
This weekend's St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concerts offer a pair of threes: Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 3" and Scriabin's "Symphony No. 3" ("The Divine Poem"). Both were written during the first decade of the 20th century when their creators were in their thirties. Both composers were Russian Romantics who were prodigious pianists. And both made significant contributions to the literature for both piano and orchestra.
There was something vaguely disconcerting about leaving Powell Hall Friday morning after hearing the SLSO and guest conductor Hannu Lintu perform Shostakovich's harrowing 1943 "Symphony No. 8" in C minor. Walking out into that bright spring morning was a bit like suddenly waking up from a nightmare. For just a moment, the light seemed a little dimmer.
In the introduction to his essay writers chapter on Shostakovich in the 1967 Penguin Books edition of "The Symphony," British musicologist Robert Layton described the Russian symphonist somewhat dismissively as a "documentary composer, far more bound up with this time than...Prokofiev, or any other of his Soviet contemporaries."
Two of the three works on this past weekend's St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concerts (the ones that aren't by James MacMillan) will also be on the bill when the orchestra performs in Carnegie Hall on Friday, March 20th. If what we heard Sunday afternoon is any indication, they'll be representing their home town proudly.
The schedule at Powell Hall was packed this weekend, with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony playing a Whitaker Foundation "Music You Know" concert on Friday and a pair of regular subscription concerts on Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend's classical "double header" continues as David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony in the music of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and James MacMillan on Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15.
This weekend local classical fans get a double header with two different St. Louis Symphony concerts: a Whitaker Foundation "Music You Know" program on Friday, March 13, and music of Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and James MacMillan on Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15. David Robertson is at the podium for both.
This August, Union Avenue Opera will present the last installment of its four-year traversal of Richard Wagner's "Ring" operas: "Götterdämmerung" ("Twilight of the Gods"). This weekend David Robertson, soprano Christine Brewer, and the St. Louis Symphony are presenting "Brünnhilde's Immolation," the final scene of that opera. Think of it as something of a preview.