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Pensacola Symphony Presents Sounds Of Europe

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The Pensacola Symphony is back in the Saenger Theatre this Saturday, March 5th at 7:30pm, for a performance titled "Sounds of Europe."  Pianist Roberto Plano will join the orchestra for a wide-ranging program of music by Smetana, de Falla, and Respighi.   Music Director Peter Rubardt and Dr. Hedi Salanki stopped by the studios to share some thoughts on the performance.

Hedi Salanki: I think it is pretty safe to say that your musical journey to Europe starts out with the most brilliant minor scale.

Peter Rubardt: You're right, it is one of the simplest and absolutely most beautiful melodies. And you're also right, it is the opening visit in a musical travelogue that we'll be touring Europe with this weekend at the Pensacola Symphony. The piece of course is by Bedřich Smetana and it is called The Moldau, named after the river in Bohemia. And after we hear that gorgeous opening melody we're treated to a series of vignettes, there's a hunting party with trumpets and horns, and then my favorite, a beautiful wedding party with a rustic peasant dance. And of course with the full apparatus of a romantic orchestra at his disposal Smetena really cuts loose when we hit the rapids on the outskirts of Prague.

HS: Your next country will be Spain, and that's a quite unusual piece.

PR: Night in the Gardens of Spain, is the name of the piece by DeFalla, undoubtedly Spain's greatest composer, DeFalla was an absolute master of orchestration, and the creativity with which he uses the orchestra to create these atmospheres describing these gardens is just exquisite.

HS: You are always very thoughtful in the way you choose your pianist.

PR: Yes, Nights in the Garden of Spain doesn't have concerto in the title but it does have a solo piano part, and we will have the great Italian pianist Roberto Plano joining us for this. This is not a typical concerto, this is not a great show off piece for the pianist, although, Lord knows, it is plenty difficult and plenty impressive, but it's a real ensemble piece and you can hear the way DeFalla works the sound of the piano into the orchestra texture.

HS: Well, you sure will pull out all the stops in the last piece of the program.

PR: Yes, Respighi's Roman Festivals- and all the stops quite literally because even the Saenger Theatre organ will get involved in this one. It's one of the largest orchestras we will ever fit on this stage, 8 percussion players, huge brass section, off-stage brass players in the boxes at the Saenger Theatre, I mentioned the Saenger Theatre organ, also a solo mandolin, for example, Respighi really puts everything into the piece. It's a tremendously vivid piece. The opening scene, for example, of Roman Festivals is depicting ancient Rome and the colloseum and the bloodthirsty audience and the smell of the lions tearing apart the prisoners, it's absolutely violent music.

HS: So how does all that end?

PR: Loud! Fast! High! Yeah, it's a very exciting finish.

That was Pensacola Symphony Music Director Peter Rubardt talking about the concert this Saturday at the Saenger Theatre.  Starting this season the Symphony has moved the concert time up to 7:30 pm.  For more information call the symphony office at  435-2533, or go online to pensacolasymphony.com.