A RUSSIAN ROMANCE WITH THE PASADENA SYMPHONY
THE PASADENA SYMPHONY: IN REHEARSAL
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
There’s no audience in the vast auditorium and not a tuxedo in sight. The orchestra files in wearing their street clothes from a long day of teaching, practicing, performing in studio and whatever else occupies their time during the day, assorted sounds begin to fill the air —welcome to rehearsal with the Pasadena Symphony!
In rehearsal this week, the Pasadena Symphony, under the direction of maestro David Lockington, with soloist Natasha Paremski, dig deep into two Russian masterpieces, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, to uncover the inner pathos that resides within these scores. The orchestra works tirelessly in service of the audiences for their upcoming performances on February 18, 2017 in the Ambassador Auditorium—rest assured it will be a concert filled to the brim with passion.
As French horn tones, string flurries, and woodwind chirps echo throughout the hall, Natasha Paremski sits center stage at the Steinway grand piano with Lockington reviewing sections of the Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto. This is the first time that Paremski and the orchestra meet, and the first of two opportunities to rehearse this concerto before the concert on Saturday. Before long, the orchestra tunes, Lockington takes his position on the podium, introduces Natasha, and then they perform the concerto in its entirety. Without hesitation, Paremski boldly executes the striking bell-like chords that declare the beginning of the Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto and they’re off.
The initial performance of the concerto is a testament to the intrinsic power in the language of music—a Russian pianist and an American orchestra meet for the first time and what emanates is something astounding. Strings play lush Russian melodies, Paremski whirls up and down the piano with shimmering notes, the brass swells in and out, a passionate French horn solo erupts with new theme in the first movement giving way to more glorious piano passages and a powerful orchestral statement closes the piece. Natasha Paremski is a skillful and emotional pianist who’s performance is captivating—all of the music rushes out of her body onto the piano like an exigent force of nature.
Upon completion of the work, Lockington consults with Paremski about tempo and balance between the orchestra and the piano. Assistant conductor David Cubek, who was sitting in the auditorium, is also asked to weigh in about the balance of the sounds—true collaboration at its finest. The piano and orchestra spend the remaining first half of rehearsal playing through only small sections of the concerto, then time was up and the orchestra moved on to rehearsal of the Tchaikovsky symphony.
The orchestra picked up where they left off from the previous day with the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, which unlike most symphonies, concludes with a slow movement. About this movement Arnold Schoenberg said, the finale “starts with a cry and ends with a moan.” After this movement, the orchestra returned to the beginning of the symphony, which is initiated by a somnolent bassoon solo that provides the material for the lively allegro that follows. Principal bassoonist Rose Corrigan played this infamous solo with a warm dark tone, brilliantly evoking the brooding atmosphere Tchaikovsky intended.
What’s interesting about these two works is that the music stems from dark places for each composer. For Rachmaninoff, his concerto marks recovery from clinical depression and writer’s block; and for Tchaikovsky, his symphony is viewed a reflection and culmination of the composer’s deeply discrepant life – after all, he died nine days after its premiere due to drinking glass of unboiled water at the height of an epidemic of cholera.
Take the time and discover these two Russian masterpieces with the Pasadena Symphony and pianist Natasha Paremski at Ambassador Auditorium. These talented musicians have been diligently at work to give audiences stirring renditions of two of the finest examples of Russian romanticism you’ll ever hear.
When: Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Where: Ambassador Auditorium | 131 South St. John Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105
Tickets and more information: http://pasadenasymphony-pops.org
Parking: Valet parking is available on Green Street for $15. General parking is available in two locations: next to the Auditorium (entrance on St. John Ave) at the covered parking structure for $10 and directly across the street at the Wells Fargo parking structure (entrance on Terrace at Green St). ADA parking is located at the above-ground parking lot adjacent to the Auditorium (entrance on St. John Ave.) for $10. Parking purchased onsite is cash only.
Sierra Auto Symphony Lounge: Located on the plaza at Ambassador Auditorium. Opens at 12:30 pm before the matinee and 6 pm before the evening performance.
Pre-Concert Discussion: Pre-concert discussion with Conductor Nicholas McGegan begins one hour before curtain and is available to all ticket holders at no cost.