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KC STAR CLASSICAL BEAT: Firebird, Aladdin and Rachmaninoff

Excerpt from Kansas City Star Classical Beat
by Patrick Neas
Jan. 20, 2019

Firebird, Aladdin and Rachmaninoff

Fantasy and romanticism will fill Helzberg Hall Jan. 25-27, when the Kansas City Symphony, led by Michael Stern, performs Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” Carl Nielsen’s incidental music for “Aladdin” and the White Peacock by Charles Tomlinson Griffes.

Alon Goldstein
Pianist Alon Goldstein will be the soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at KC Symphony’s concerts Jan. 25-27. Submitted

On the first half of the program, pianist Alon Goldstein will be the soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Even before “The Rite of Spring,” Stravinsky shook up the classical world with “The Firebird.” Written for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1910, “The Firebird” has the Russian sound of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, and yet there’s something sparkling and modern about the ballet. The electrifying finale is one of the most exciting moments in classical music. Rachmaninoff said, “Great God, what a work of genius this is. This is true Russia.”

Danish composer Carl Nielsen is best known for his symphonies, but his incidental music for a staged production of the fairy tale “Aladdin” is another Nielsen masterpiece and should be much better known.

The American Impressionist composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes (yes, America had Impressionists) was inspired to write “The White Peacock” after a visit to the Berlin zoo. Griffes wrote that has his tone poem “pictures a wonderful garden filled with gorgeous color, where a white peacock moves about slowly ‘as the soul, as the breath of all this beauty.’ The music tries to evoke the thousand colors of the garden and the almost weird beauty of the peacock amid these surroundings.”

Rachmaninoff once said, “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.” It may not be as popular, but the Piano Concerto No. 1 is a masterpiece in its own right.

8 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 and 2 p.m. Jan. 27. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$82. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.

Read the full article here.