RI Philharmonic Presents Beethoven’s “Eroica” on February 18 Robert Levin & Ya-Fei Chuang in Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director Larry Rachleff welcome acclaimed pianist Robert Levin for a return engagement at The VETS. Levin is joined by his wife, renowned pianist Ya-Fei Chuang, and the Orchestra for Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. The concert is Saturday, February 18 at 8:00pm and also features Beethoven’s Eroica – the Third Symphony – and Messiaen’s Forgotten Offerings. The Friday AMICA Rush Hour (Feb 17 at 6:30pm) concert features Beethoven’s Eroica and the Philharmonic’s annual side-by-side performance with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra – performing the final movements of Stravinsky’s Firebird suite.

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About Robert Levin

Pianist and conductor Robert Levin’s engagements include the orchestras of Atlanta, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, Utah and Vienna. Renowned for his improvised embellishments and cadenzas in Classical period repertoire, Robert Levin is a passionate advocate of new music, having commissioned and premiered a large number of works. A renowned chamber musician and a noted theorist and musicologist, his completions of Mozart fragments are published, recorded and performed throughout the world.

About Ya-Fei Chuang

Acclaimed by critics internationally for performances of stunning virtuosity, refinement and communicative power, Ya-Fei Chuang has appeared at numerous international festivals, as well as the Celebrity Series and Symphony Hall in Boston, the philharmonic halls of Berlin and Cologne, the Berlin Schauspielhaus and Philharmonie, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, the Orchestra of the Teatro Argentino in La Plata, Argentina and many others.  She has given the world premieres of works by John Harbison, Stanley Walden, Thomas Oboe Lee and Pulitzer prizewinner Yehudi Wyner. She is on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory Preparatory Division.

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At a glance

BEETHOVEN’S EROICA
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, February 18 at 8:00pm

Larry Rachleff, conductor
Robert Levin, piano
Ya-Fei Chuang, piano

MESSIAEN Les offrandes oubliées (Forgotten Offerings)
POULENC Concerto for Two Pianos
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 (Eroica)

AMICA Rush Hour Concert
Friday, February 17 at 6:30pm

STRAVINSKY Firebird Suite
Berceuse (Lullaby)
Finale
     Side-by-Side with Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 (Eroica)

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About the concert: stories behind the music

Les offrandes oubliées (Forgotten Offerings)
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

Outside the box:  Messiaen defies classification. One of France’s most important and influential composers of the 20th century, his style employed medieval modes, serial procedure, Indian ragas and bird songs.

First big break: Les offrandes oubliées, Messiaen’s first major work performed publicly and published, revealed his great creative potential and showed his penchant for expressing religious emotion in music. In the published score, the composer offered this guide to the music’s meaning: “Thou lovest us, Gentle Jesus, but we had forgotten.”

Concerto for Two Pianos in D minor
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Eclectic finesse:  The 1932 concerto typifies Poulenc’s eclecticism. With themes ranging in style from jazz to Rachmaninoff, the mosaic-like form jumps from one to another with finesse: we can hear flavors of Stravinsky, “music hall,” Russian, even Balinese Gamelan music that Poulenc had heard in 1931. About the second movement, Poulenc wrote, “I allowed myself to return to Mozart, for I cherish the melodic line and I prefer Mozart to all other musicians.”

Symphony No.3 in E-flat major, op.55 (Eroica)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Not for Napoleon:  In 1804, Beethoven had just finished a new symphony. Musically revolutionary, it was longer than any the world had known. It was to be the “Bonaparte” Symphony, dedicated to Napoleon and, implicitly, to the spirit of the French Revolution. But when Napoleon proclaimed himself the French Emperor, Beethoven condemned his hero’s treachery. According to his student, Beethoven threw out the dedication, crying, “Is he then, too, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he will trample on all the rights of man and indulge only his ambition. He will exalt himself above all others and become a tyrant!” The work’s new title page read Sinfonia eroica, “composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”

What to listen for:  Following two sharp chords, we are swept up in the rhythmic momentum. The music is alternately heroic, turbulent and tragically tender. Next, the funeral march movement explores heroic grieving and spiritual contemplation through variations and fugue in one of his profoundest musical essays. The third movement, a jovial Scherzo, lifts the listeners from these depths with its buoyant rhythms and raucous outbursts. In the central passage, Beethoven employs three horns in passages both memorable and heroic. The finale begins with variations on a theme, followed by an andante section that explores the tragic and noble possibilities of the lyrical theme, interrupted by the final, triumphal finish.

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About the Orchestra

2016-2017 is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s 72nd season and Music Director Larry Rachleff’s 21st with the Orchestra. The season’s eight-concert Saturday TACO Classical Series features world-renowned guest artists. The four-concert Friday AMICA Rush Hour Series offers an earlier start time and shorter program with full performances of select repertoire from Saturday. On March 5, the Orchestra is joined by the stunning pianist Lang Lang for a Gala Celebration.

All programs and artists are subject to change without notice.

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