Bruce Liu Plays Rachmaninoff

NACO Live

Music Classical music Masterworks Piano

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  • NAC Orchestra

  Sep 9, 2022 - 8 PM EDT

R. Strauss Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini DINUK WIJERATNE Polyphonic Lively R. Strauss Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

Less than a year after his resounding First Prize win at the internationally prestigious Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Montreal pianist Bruce Liu makes his debut with the NAC Orchestra in our season opener, bringing one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular and romantic works to Southam Hall. Joyful, playful, and just plain fun: this is Rachmaninoff’s delightful Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  

Two contrasting works by Richard Strauss bookend the concert, one full of comic delight and the other filled with some of music’s most tender and heartbreaking passages. First, the composer’s lively and comical Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks recounts the misadventures of an irrepressible peasant folk hero who exposes the constant skirmishes between the forces of repression and the lust for freedom. About the work, Strauss said, “I only wanted to give the people in the concert hall a good laugh for once.”  

The sublime beauty of Strauss’s Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, from his opera Der Rosenkavalier, travels in a contrasting but equally rewarding direction, evoking both the wonder and turbulence in the struggles of love.  

Canadian composer Dinuk Wijeratne was inspired to write his Polyphonic Lively by Paul Klee’s painting of the same name. The work is a kaleidoscope of orchestral timbres (much like the vibrant colours in the Swiss-German artist’s style). Wijeratne describes his work as “character-driven—through sharp turns and decisive action, its ‘journey’ is simply what the characters make of it. Its musical fabric is a multiplicity of voices, lines, and themes that decide—on a whim—when to coalesce and coexist.” 

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