Charlotte Symphony: All Russian

When: Fri., April 11 and Sat., April 12 2014


Mother Russia has gobbled up Crimea and seems poised to do the same with Russian-speaking sections of Ukraine — and Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have never been higher. So, an all-Russian music program is timely, and provides a little context into the citizenry’s oft-tortured psyche and sense of nationalism — as well as some beautiful music. Rimsky-Korsakov’s great Russian Easter Overture, a companion piece of sorts to the more well-known Scheherazade, was the composer’s tribute to fellow Russians Mussorgsky and Borodin. With its gently swaying motif, you can practically see the steppes undulating over the horizon forever. Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 is a fairly safe choice, especially considering what was going on in classical music circles during the same era — one reason the piece was considered too romantic by many, even upon its 1919 premiere. Maybe the current crisis is best represented by Stravinsky’s 1947 Petrushka, an update for a smaller orchestra of a ballet originally penned in 1911 — the story goes that Igor wasn’t getting royalties for the first one, so updated it in part to ensure his name was on the checks. Call it a Crimean mulligan, if you like. (Too soon?) Violinist Calin Lupanu is the soloist, with Christopher Warren-Green conducting. (John Schacht)

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