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Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Symphony to Open New Season with Weekend Concerts

The Santa Barbara Symphony, conducted by Nir Kabaretti, opens its 2014-15 season with a veritable flood of romantic music, in concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre.

The guest artist for these concerts will be the sensational young Argentinean pianist Ingrid Fliter.

The program will consist of three works: Dmitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture (1954), Frederic Chopin's Concerto No. 2 in F-Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 21 (1830) and Sergei Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 in E-Minor, Opus 27 (1907).

As I said, a veritable flood of romantic music — except for the Shostakovich, of course: The Festive Overture offers almost no internal evidence of its composer's name. It's what you might call a light neo-classic. There is some historical resonance, however. The overture's upbeat, rather carefree tone, may have something to do with the fact that Stalin had just died. That was certainly enough to put any Soviet artist into a "Festive" mood.

Chopin wrote both his piano concertos when he was 20 and head over heels in love with a young singer at the Warsaw conservatory name Constantia Gladkowska. It was a Dantesque — or, rather, Petrarchian — love. He worshiped her from afar, and even after they had met once or twice, the composer's love was carried on mainly by him pouring out his heart to his friends.

"Tell her," he wrote to one, "that even after my death my ashes shall be strewn under her feet."

The second movement "Larghetto" of this concerto is an open avowal of his love. Nevertheless, the concerto is dedicated to another singer, who was not only talented and beautiful but rich and aristocratic, the Countess Delphine Potocka, who remained his friend and supporter for the rest of his life. When she learned that Chopin was dying, the Countess traveled to Nice, where he was staying, and sang for him. When she entered the room, Chopin said: "Now I know why God has delayed so long in calling me to Him; He wanted me to have the pleasure of seeing you once more." Did I say 'Romantic"? Believe it.

As long as it is, Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony never bores. One knows it well enough to know that something beautiful, something worth waiting for, is coming right up, and when it comes, that there will be enough of it to satisfy the most insatiable romantic longing.

Tickets to this concert are $29 to $133, with special rates for seniors, students and groups. Discounted student tickets are available for $10 with valid student ID. Single tickets can be purchased from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222 or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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