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RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G major
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade, op. 35
Recognized by The New York Times for his “prodigious technique and rhapsodic flair,” Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov returns to Aspen for Ravel’s jazz-inspired Piano Concerto in G. You’ll hear blues in the first movement, a lovely sentimental waltz in the second, and then a dash to the finish in the thrilling finale which may make you think the piano is trying to outrace the orchestra.
As far as musical story-telling goes, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is hard to beat. This exotic music has captivated audiences since its debut. It’s easy to identify the two main characters at the beginning of the piece: the stern, gruff sultan and the mesmerizing protagonist of the title, portrayed by the solo violin. Telling all 1001 tales would have been overly ambitious, so Rimsky-Korsakov picked just a few. “The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship” will make you feel like you’re on the ocean with its rocking rhythms and orchestral swells. “The Tale of the Kalendar Prince” evokes the mystery of the East with alluring wind solos. In the “Young Prince and the Young Princess” you’ll hear some deliciously sensual love music, and finally it’s back to sea with crashing waves that end in a shipwreck. Scheherazade gets the last word in the final moments, with a sweet violin solo telegraphing her triumph over her wicked husband.
AMFS former composer-in-residence Christopher Rouse passed away last year, and this concert honors him with a performance of Rapture. Written in 2000, Rouse described it as “the most unabashedly tonal music I have composed. I wished to depict a progression to an ever more blinding ecstasy, but the entire work inhabits a world devoid of darkness—hence the almost complete lack of sustained dissonance.”
Leonard Slatkin’s ability to draw every nuance from an orchestra and provide compelling musical experiences with every piece he conducts will make this a concert to remember.