Tuesday, April 29, 2008

May 1 & 4, 2008

On this week's broadcast, principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in music of Adams, Ravel and Berlioz.

John Adams' father did not know composer Charles Ives. However, Adams says they would have gotten along if they had met, being rural New Englanders of similar generation and disposition. My Father Knew Charles Ives is a sort of musical autobiography, with snippets of Adams' musical memories (clarinet lessons, summer marching bands, dance bands heard across the lake) and places (Concord, New Hampshire, and not only the lake but the mountains).

Adam Golka was 20 at the time of this concert. His parents left Poland in the 1980s. Adam is Texan born and bred. At age 16 he won a major Chinese piano competition. Though both his hands are in excellent order, he let the right hand take the night off as he played Ravel's Concerto for Piano Left Hand.

There's nothing else quite like the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. Maybe that's because it was fueled by opium. At least, the story it tells is about an opium trip that goes from infatuated bucolic love to nightmarish funeral, all with unbelievably original, colorful, rich music. Berlioz wrote his masterpiece in 1830, and it still (ahem) rocks. Runnicles and the ASO give it their all.

This concert took place in January 2008 before enthusiastic audiences in Atlanta's Symphony Hall. GPB's production airs Thursday, May 1 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 4 at 10 p.m. with host Sarah Zaslaw.

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