Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The ASO on GPB, May 15 & 18

It's a program of flops: three Russian pieces that bombed at their premieres but have since recovered. On this week's radio broadcast of the ASO on GPB, from a concert recorded in February, powerhouse pianist Yefim Bronfman joins music director Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony to play Sergei Prokofiev's fiendishly difficult Second Piano Concerto. The orchestra also plays Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet (with its contrasting themes for the clashing clans, the somber friar, and the emotional lovers) and Rachmaninoff's First Symphony (which almost ended his career).

What first strikes you when you meet Yefim Bronfman might be his hands. You picture a pianist as having long, slender, elegant fingers. Bronfman's are stocky and thick. They look as if they might stumble over each other at the keyboard. And yet, they're as nimble as any fingers on the concert circuit.

Though he doesn't discernibly hit wrong notes, Bronfman admits Prokofiev's second concerto is tricky. He says he can control up to ten elements at once but this piece has twenty. Just keep practicing, he says, and then rely on luck.

In our interview he also talks about the lively cultural scene and the fantastic fruit in Tashkent, in Soviet Central Asia (Uzbekistan), where he was born.

The ASO is on GPB Thursday at 8 p.m., repeating Sunday night at 10.

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