Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein solos in the season opener of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra's classics series next week.
Gerstein will play Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on Sept. 24-25 at the Gallo Center. The orchestra will perform Rossini's Overture to "William Tell," Rimsky-
Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol and Copland's "Appalachian Spring."
"It's music that's familiar and, I would say, for the most part romantic," said conductor David Lockington. "It's all about expressing emotions. Each culture expresses them in a different way and they're all trying to move emotions."
Born in 1979, Gerstein just won this year's Gilmore Artist Award. He's only the sixth person to achieve that honor.
"It's unusual in that it's not an event where people compete," Lockington said. "There are committees that go around and listen to performers and then they're nominated for this very prestigious prize. We're fortunate to have him in Modesto because pretty soon, he'll be too expensive or too busy."
Rachmaninoff's variations on themes written by Paganini are some of the most virtuosic material in the piano repertoire, Lockington said. The music is brilliant, tuneful and often soulful.
The "William Tell" Overture is probably the most famous piece on the program because it was used as the theme to the "Lone Ranger" shows. While everyone has heard the galloping music, people may not have heard the music that precedes that in the work, Lockington said.
Rimsky-Korsakov, like many 19th century composers, was fascinated by Latin culture. Lockington said his "Capriccio Espagnol" has flashy solos and a lot of characteristic Spanish-
Copland's piece conveys the sense of "a very wholesome journey," Lockington said. "It's a combination of idyllic pastoral sound and also a sound that incorporates folk elements, jaunty rhythms, syncopation," he said. "It's very famous for the ending."