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San Diego Uptown News | Apr. 1–14, 2011


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Extraordinary Concerts Top SD Symphony Spring Season

Russian music is the focus of Master- works concert featuring phenomenal young pianist Yuja Wang performing Sergei Prokofiev’s brisk Third Piano Concerto. The concert also includes Mozart’s brilliant “Jupiter” symphony.

By Jeff Britton SDUN Reporter

Composer John Corigliano

recalls that when he was asked to compose a percussion concerto, his only reaction was horror. While he loved using a percussion bat- tery in his orchestral works, he said, the very thing that makes it accent other orchestral sounds perfectly made it unsatisfactory as the spotlight in a concerto. Luckily, Corigliano, winner of the Grawemeyer Award for his Symphony No. 1 (inspired by the AIDS pandemic) and the Pulitzer Prize for his Symphony No. 2, wasn’t deterred, and classical mu- sic lovers will have the opportunity to mix their usual Bach, Beethoven and Brahms with the local pre- miere of his daring and unusual percussion concerto, featuring es- teemed British percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, this April 7-10, at the Jacobs Masterwork series. Percussionists play dozens of

instruments, many of which have little or no pitch and don’t sustain a sound like a violin or trumpet. Until the brash, Italian-American Corigliano composed “Conjurer” in 2007, most percussion con- certi deferred the melody to the orchestra, while the percussion did figures around it. But Corigliano wrote a concerto for a solo percus- sionist playing many instruments, in which there are real melodies introduced by the percussion, not the orchestra. The result is a three- movement concerto broken down


April 7-8, 7:30 p.m. John Corigliano’s percussion con- certo, “Conjurer,” with Dame Evelyn Glennie Sun., April 10, 2 p.m. (Also on the bill are Liszt’s Les Preludes and Beethoven’s Second Symphony) Fri., May 6, 8 p.m. Yuja Wang

into Wood, Metal and Skin. In Wood, he supplemented the pitched xylophone and marimba with unpitched instruments such as wood block, claves, log drum, etc., ranging from high to low and placed in front of the marimba. A cadenza for chimes (tubular bells) accompanied by tam-tams and suspended cymbals marks the Metal movement, with the melody introduced in the low register of the vibraphone.

The Skin cadenza features a “talking drum” accompanied by a kick drum, the former played with the hands and changing pitch as its sides are squeezed. Thus ensues a lively conversation with the kick drum, a very dry, small bass drum played with a foot pedal. It all culminates with the orchestra and soloist playing a savage rhythmic figure that accelerates to a blinding

see Symphony, page 28

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