The Haifa Symphony Orchestra is a bright spot in a region of the world that usually is associated with strife and tension.
By PATRICK NEAS
Special to The Star
Founded in 1950, the orchestra is the cultural center of northern Israel. The esteemed group will perform music by Carl Maria von Weber and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky on Saturday in Helzberg Hall, a Harriman-Jewell Series event.
Pianist Roman Rabinovich will join the orchestra for a richly romantic piano concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The Haifas principal guest conductor, Boguslaw Dawidow, will start off the concert with the Overture to Euryanthe by Weber.
This is most welcome because it seems Webers music does not show up on concert programs nearly enough. Considered a proto-Romantic composer, Weber was hugely inspirational to later generations of composers, especially Richard Wagner.
Many critics detect strong similarities between Euryanthe and Wagners Lohengrin. Webers opera suffered from a bad libretto and has faded from the repertoire, but the overture is one of the composers finest and remains a concert favorite.
The centerpiece of the first half of the program is Rachmaninoffs Piano Concerto No. 2 with Rabinovich as soloist. This is one of Rachmaninoffs most popular works, and for good reason. Who can resist its heart-melting romantic themes? Certainly not Hollywood, which has used the concerto in films like David Leans Brief Encounter and Billy Wilders The Seven Year Itch.
Russian romanticism continues on the second half of the concert with Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 4. Dedicated to his patroness, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, Tchaikovsky wanted his symphony to be a reflection of Ludwig van Beethovens Symphony No. 5.
Indeed the opening fanfare of the fourth bears a strong resemblance to the famous Fate theme in Beethovens fifth. Tchaikovskys symphony is an emotionally wrenching work, but it ends in triumph in what has been called an apotheosis in Imperial style.
Prince Igo in HD
Few people are familiar with Alexander Borodins opera Prince Igor, but even casual classical fans know the Polovetsian Dances, which are taken from that opera.
Youll have the rare opportunity to experience the Polovetsian Dances in context when the Metropolitan Opera presents Borodins opulent and exotic masterpiece Saturday in a live HD broadcast shown on a handful of area movie theater screens. An encore broadcast is scheduled March 5.
This will be the first time in 100 years that the Met has performed Prince Igor, and its pulling out all the stops.
Based on the video trailers Ive seen, it seems the Met is setting the opera in Soviet-era Russia rather than the medieval period in which the historical Prince Igor lived. But the production still looks spectacular, with a particularly eye-popping scene set in a poppy field.
Broadcasts can be seen at a handful of theaters in the Kansas City area. Check FathomEvents.com. Tickets are $16-$24.
in B minor
Johann Sebastian Bachs magisterial Mass in B minor is something of a mystery.
Why did Bach, a devout Lutheran, write a complete Catholic Mass in Latin one year before he died? There are many theories but no definitive answers.
No matter its enigmatic origins, the Mass in B minor is widely considered one of the greatest works Bach ever wrote and a supreme masterpiece of world music. The Spire Chamber Ensemble and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra will perform the Mass in B minor on Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mission and Friday at Grace Cathedral in Topeka.
This will be a rare opportunity to hear this work performed in authentic baroque style and on period instruments.
Ben Spalding, who will conduct the performances, is steeped in Bach and committed to performing his music as authentically as possible. He and his Spire ensemble are performing all of Bachs cantatas in weekly Saturday concerts at Trinity Lutheran Church. If you love Bach, check out those concerts.
7 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 5601 W. 62nd St., Mission. $15-$20. 7 p.m. Friday at Grace Cathedral, Old Town, Topeka. $10-$15.SpireChamberEnsemble.org
The Heritage Philharmonic, one of the Kansas City areas fine community orchestras, will present Percussion Fiesta on Saturday at Blue Springs High School. The orchestra conducted by James Murray will be joined by the Marimba Sol de Chiapas marimba ensemble.
7:30 p.m. Saturday at Blue Springs High School, 2000 N.W. Ashton Drive, Blue Springs. Free. HeritagePhilharmonic.org