orchestral
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Festival Orchestra: Malofeev Plays Rachmaninoff

August 11
4:00 pm
$92, $75, $45
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orchestral
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Festival Orchestra: Malofeev Plays Rachmaninoff

August 11
4:00 pm
$92, $75, $45

Add to calendar
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30 minute hold in cart

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PROGRAM
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RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, op. 1
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R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), op. 40

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At only 22, Alexander Malofeev is already a big name in Europe and China, and his YouTube channel has over 97,000 subscribers. Boston Classical Review praised his “probing interpretive depths” and “rare poetic grace.” Winner of numerous international awards, Malofeev became interested in the music of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev by the time he was seven. Following acclaimed performances last summer and winter in Aspen, he returns for Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto.

Rachmaninoff was even younger than Malofeev when he wrote the rarely-performed concerto. The first movement was written when he was a student of 17 and the second and third when he was all of 18. Twenty-six years later, he revised the work, and proclaimed “It is really good now. All the youthful freshness is there, and yet it plays itself so much more easily. And nobody pays any attention. When I tell them in America that I will play the First Concerto, they do not protest, but I can see by their faces that they would prefer the Second or Third.” Apparently, it’s not only pop stars who groan when asked for the same hits all the time! Like the composer’s more popular works, the style is thoroughly Russian, Romantic, and untouched by the 20th century musical revolutions that were taking place at the time.

Aspen Conducting Academy alumnus Roderick Cox conducts Strauss’s stirring and beautifully orchestrated Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). Unlike earlier tone poems such as Don Quixote and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Strauss used no literary source, but simply declared, "There is no need for a program; it is enough to know there is a hero fighting his enemies." He did provide titles for the work’s sections in the score: 1. The Hero (Strauss himself); 2. The Hero’s Adversaries (the very music critics who would attempt to punish him for his various blasphemies); 3. The Hero’s Companion (his beloved wife Pauline); 4. The Hero’s Battlefield; 5. The Hero’s Works of Peace; 6. The Hero’s Retreat from the World and Fulfillment.

Before composing the piece, Strauss ironically stated his intentions in a letter that said, “Since Beethoven’s Eroica is so unpopular with conductors and rarely performed, I intend to fill the void with a large tone poem called A Hero’s Life.” Obviously no such a void existed, nor did the need to justify his ambitions since Strauss was already very successful and had self-esteem to spare. This confidence was challenged once it became clear who the hero and his adversaries at the center of the piece really were. One critic called it a “monstrous act of egotism.” Having recently been celebrated in Berlin as one of Germany’s most important musicians, Strauss simply shrugged off the charge.

See a Rachmaninoff rarity played by one of the most exciting pianists of his generation, and a rising conducting star and alum of the Aspen Conducting Academy program!

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With special thanks to Nancy Wall and Charles Wall
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