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With special thanks to Stephen Brint and Mark Brown
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FALLA: El amor brujo (Love Bewitched): Ballet Suite
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43
RAVEL: Rapsodie espagnole
RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso
This colorful program highlights a Russian favorite bookended by works cross-fertilized by France and Spain. Born in Andalucia, Manuel de Falla spent seven years in Paris where he was influenced by Debussy, Ravel, and Dukas. Upon his return to Spain in 1915 at the beginning of WWI, his first work was the ballet El Amor Brujo. The scenario was based on an Andalusian legend about a young widowed gypsy haunted by the ghost of her jealous husband who must exchange a kiss of perfect love with her new lover in order to rid her of her spectral ex. After “bringing warmth as well as glitter to rippling passage-work” and earning “huge waves” of applause from the audience for his performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto (Birmingham Post), Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski returns to Aspen for Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Following in the footsteps of Schumann, Liszt, and Brahms, Rachmaninoff took the last of Paganini’s 24 Caprices and fashioned a set of kaleidoscopic variations into a mini piano concerto, brilliantly incorporating the plainchant melody Dies Irae from the Requiem mass. Ravel’s mother was from the Basque region and he was born only 11 miles from the Spanish border. Although the family moved to Paris when Ravel was an infant, he was fascinated by Spain. The three works on the program’s second half are stunningly evocative examples of his musical border crossing.