published Friday, January 27th, 2012

Russia comes to the Scenic City

IF YOU GO

What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Masterworks concert, "Russian Spectacular."

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Feb. 3.

Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

Admission: $19-$78.

Phone: 267-8583.

Website: www.chattanoogasymphony.org.

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will take audiences through nearly a century of Russian history through music starting Thursday.

"The 19th century all over Europe was huge on nationalism ... people who took pride in their country and incorporated their national trait in their music," said CSO music director Kayoko Dan. "I think it's really cool to hear Russian composers from different generations and different centuries."

"Russian Spectacular" is a traditionally planned concert -- an overture, a concerto and a symphony.

"I like it that way. To me, the traditional form is very comforting," Dan said. "I think it's good to have experiences that are different, but sometimes it's good to come back to what people expect and grew up with."

The evening begins in 1842, with Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila, based on the 1820 epic fairy-tale poem by Alexander Pushkin.

"Glinka is known as the founding father of Russian music, in the early 19th century," Dan said.

Highly popular, Glinka's work "sparked the emotion of nationalism," she added.

Next, guest artist Jennifer Koh will be featured in a performance of Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, which premiered in 1935 in Madrid.

The work was composed following Prokofiev's return to his native Russia after a lengthy time away from home.

The piece, Dan said, is very emotional.

"I think he really portrays his state of mind at that point," Dan said. "There are a lot of different emotions in this music. I'm really excited to hear how Jennifer comes in and expresses them."

Koh will join the CSO for two rehearsals before the opening performance, Dan said.

Finally, the music travels back to 1878 for P.I. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Composed in four movements, the work, Dan said, reflects the emotions of personal difficulty.

"He was struggling personally (at the time of composition)," she said. "Tchaikovsky is really good at making you cry when he wants you to. It's very powerful."

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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