Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Symphony concert to showcase new piano

Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play works by Ravel and Saint-SaŽns

Express Staff Writer

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play on the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s new Steinway grand piano tonight, Aug. 6, at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
Courtesy photo

    A new Steinway grand piano recently obtained by the Sun Valley Summer Symphony will be debuted during an orchestral concert designed to showcase the piano’s attributes this evening, Aug. 6, at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
    Until now, the symphony has rented a piano each season, but, symphony Executive Director Jennifer Teisinger said, “an orchestra that’s the caliber of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony should have its own piano.”
    Teisinger said the symphony was never certain exactly which piano it would get each year, and rental pianos, which get moved from venue to venue, have more wear on them than does an instrument that remains in one place.
    Last fall, an anonymous donor made an unsolicited lead gift, encouraging the symphony to raise other matching gifts and acquire the finest piano it could find. Almost immediately, six other donors joined the list and the search was on.
    The piano was hand-picked by Jean-Yves Thibaudet—one of the world’s finest concert pianists and a friend of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony—in person at the Steinway factory in Germany in January.
    “He’s performed at the Sun Valley Pavilion many times, so he knows the acoustics of the venue and the challenges of performing in an environment with ambient noise,” Teisinger said. “He was definitely looking for an instrument with a lot of power.”
    Teisinger said Thibaudet reported that the piano has very responsive keys and crisp trills—the quickly alternating notes played by two fingers.
    The Concert Grand Model D takes nearly a year to build and is constructed of 12,000 parts, crafted by hand at two factories, in New York City and Hamburg, Germany. With shipping, a technical inspection and locking cover included, the piano cost about $200,000.
    On Wednesday, Thibaudet and the full orchestra will perform music of two great French composers inspired by exotic sounds outside their home country: Saint-Saëns’ “Concerto No. 5 in 5 Major for Piano,” a piece selected in part to showcase the range of the instrument, and Ravel’s “Rapsodie espagnole.”
    A native of France, Thibaudet is one of the world’s most sought-after soloists. The New York Times said, “Every note he fashions is a pearl. …The joy, brilliance and musicality of his performance should not be missed.”
    Thibaudet is a prolific performer around the globe, has recorded more than 50 albums and boasts a long list of kudos. In 2001, France awarded him the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Closer to home, the Hollywood Bowl honored him for his musical achievements by inducting him into its Hall of Fame in 2010.
    He was the soloist on the Oscar- and Golden Globe-award-winning score for the film “Atonement” and for the Oscar-nominated “Pride and Prejudice” score. He also recorded the soundtrack of the 2012 release “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.”
    Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), also known by his nom de plume, Sannois, was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103, popularly known as “The Egyptian,” was written in 1896 and was his last piano concerto. Saint-Saëns composed it in the temple town of Luxor while on one of his frequent winter vacations to Egypt, and the music is among his most exotic, displaying influences from Javanese, Spanish and Middle Eastern music. Saint-Saëns said the piece represented a sea voyage.
    Joseph-Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was a French composer known especially for his melodies, masterful orchestration, richly evocative harmonies and inventive instrumental textures and effects. Along with Claude Debussy, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music.
    Ravel composed his “Rapsodie espagnole” between 1907 and 1908. It was one of his first major works for orchestra. The “Rapsodie” reflects the profound influence of the Spanish musical heritage imparted to Ravel by his Basque mother.
    The free concert will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Greg Moore:

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