Symphony production you don’t want to miss

By Christie Franke, Red Pulse Writer

Some composers are funny when it comes to style. Either they work very quickly8212;such as Gioachino Antonio Rossini, who could write a full-scale opera in three weeks8212;or very, very slowly. Johannes Brahms falls into the latter category. In fact, he took so long to write his first symphony that audiences had to wait 21 years before they finally heard it performed. That’s a long time to work on a symphony that lasts less than an hour, but it’s worth it.

Tchaikovsky, meanwhile, only took three months to produce his Piano Concerto No. 1. He revised it twice, but these revisions didn’t take a decade each time.

This weekend, the Utah Symphony brings together these two pieces. Both are extremely famous8212;that goes without saying8212;and will be presented under the baton of guest conductor, Maestro Jean-Claude Casadesus. Also performing is pianist Alexander Paley, who will be presenting Tchaikovsky’s Concerto.

Casadesus is a Frenchman, well-known across Europe and North America for his dedication to music education. Music is in his blood, as he was born into a family of musicians and actors, studied percussion at the Paris Conservatory and has conducted opera across France and western Europe, including the opera houses in Lille, Brussels and Barcelona.

Paley was born in Moldavia and began playing piano at age 6. At an early age, he was winning awards (he won the National Music Competition of Moldavia when he was 16) and went on to study music at the Moscow Conservatory. Various awards followed, as well as performances across North America and Europe. Paley has a lot of recordings out too, including Bach’s Goldberg-Variations, Clavecin bien tempéré and Prokofiev Romeo and Julliet and Cinderella suites.

So what is so special about this music? Well, Brahms’ First is modeled on themes that Beethoven used in his Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, to the extent that the piece is often referred to as “Beethoven’s Tenth.” This actually upset Brahms mightily. Being constantly compared to Beethoven made him feel as though he was being accused of plagiarism, when his real intention was to pay homage to Beethoven’s work. Finally, after being compared to Beethoven for the nth time, Brahms snapped, “Any ass can see that.” Still, even today, the First is referred to as “Beethoven’s Tenth.” Brahms must be flipping in his grave.

Tchaikovsky’s Concerto, on the other hand, was met with open dislike the first time it was heard in Paris. Tchaikovsky’s friends and critics urged him to rewrite the whole thing, which he refused to do. Interestingly, the first performance of the original score took place in Boston in 1875, where it was a resounding success. Its next premiere was in Russia, where Tchaikovsky was disgusted to report that it came off as absolutely atrocious.

The symphony’s performance will undoubtedly not be atrocious, as it’s proved itself to be very good. Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling 801-533-NOTE or by visiting www.utahsymphony.org. Tickets are also available at the Abravanel Hall box office, and range between $16 and $60, though student discounts are available. The performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

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Jean Claude Casadesus