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Variety was the order of the day Friday night as the St. Louis Symphony livened up the Thanksgiving weekend with classical favorites by Prokofiev and the local premiere of a new contrabass concerto by Chinese composer Tan Dun in a stunning performance by SLSO Principal Double Bass Erik Harris.

David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony have a heavily lupine program for you this weekend, with Prokofiev's musical fairy tale "Peter and the Wolf" (in a collaboration with Webster University) as well as Tan Dun's new contrabass concerto, subtitled "The Wolf." There's also music from "The Snow Maiden," a fairy tale opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, along with one of Prokofiev's most popular pieces, "Symphony No. 1," Op. 25 ("Classical").

I have become quite a fan of the St. Louis Symphony's periodic "Music You Know" concerts, sponsored by the Whitaker Foundation. The series got off to a rocky start last November but quickly righted itself this past March. As David Robertson and the orchestra clearly demonstrated at this past Friday's concert, the series has settled into a very polished and pleasing groove.

The title of Friday's St. Louis Symphony concert said it all: "Music You Know." Presented by The Whittaker Foundation, the evening probably was, for the many of those in attendance, something of a reunion with old friends.

The title of this Friday's St. Louis Symphony concert says it all: "music you know." For the overwhelming majority of classical music lovers, this will be an evening with old friends.

So how does one make the standard piano concerto format more innovative?  By adding a second solo instrument, of course.  That is precisely how Dmitry Shostakovich emboldened his Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor.  The result is a neo-classically inspired work that is at once brash and refined, carefully laid out yet unpredictable.

Published in Reviews
Friday, 25 October 2013 12:00

Symphony Preview: Story time

This weekend at Powell Hall it's a classic example of musical storytelling, a cocky, nose-thumbing piano concerto by a musical wise guy in his 20s, and a bit of orchestral delirium.