Russian doubleheader kicks off Symphony season
For the arts, fall has always been prime time for new beginnings. The custom of theaters, galleries, and concert halls, of orchestras, operas, dance companies, etc., using the weeks of early fall to inaugurate a fresh vista of upcoming events apparently dates back several centuries.
Possibly it began with the custom of royal courts returning from countryside to city for amusement and stimulation during the long winter months to come
As weather turns crisp and pleasures of the summer slip into the past, the inauguration of a new concert season always seems to call for a little extra dazzle. So it?s with his usual sense of good programming that the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra?s music director, Louis Lane, chose to inaugurate the 2005-06 season with a brilliant Russian doubleheader on Saturday night.
In providing us with consistently popular concert works for symphony orchestra, what a debt we owe the Russians! Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, to name a few - without them the musical landscape of the past 150 years would have been dullsville indeed.
And this is without considering the two Russian superstars, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, whose music made up the entirety of the TSO?s program. Both composers shared an ability to write music of the highest quality and imagination, yet able to be enjoyed by a broad swath of music lovers.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky?s Symphony No. 5 is a perfect example. Shot through with wonderful melodies, its lively tempos on Saturday made listening a real pleasure. A mighty symphonic structure of four movements, lasting about 47 minutes, the andante was especially enjoyable, with its solo work for principal horn and clarinet.
To warm applause, Maestro Lane reappeared after intermission with the evening?s guest piano soloist, Yakov Kasman. They immediately assumed their duty stations at keyboard and podium to dish up the evening?s climactic offering, the always-fascinating Rachmaninoff "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini."
Equally famed as a rip-roaring keyboard "competition warrior" (he?s a Van Cliburn Piano Competition silver medalist) and sensitive interpreter of the great concerto literature, Kasman is a small-statured man who radiates energy like a coiled spring.
The magic potion of music and piano fireworks brewed up by Lane, the TSO musicians, and soloist Kasman was vastly exciting, and amply justified the all the praise ever heaped on this fiery Russian performer.
Moving to the new Link Centre Concert Hall a year ago has done wonders for the TSO, in terms of better sound, audience comfort, and impressive musical ambiance. Now, the orchestra is preparing to inaugurate a whole new era with the anticipated arrival of a brand new Steinway concert grand piano.
For the first time, our fair city will have ready access to a world class, well-cared-for instrument for concert purposes. Acquired with private funds through this community?s generosity, the TSO has scheduled a grand inaugural concert in 2006.
It is indeed a time for new beginnings!