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March 21, 2013

Pianist joins symphony for Romantic concert

Two musicians who oversee two major classical music organizations on Cape Ann come together at the Cape Ann Symphony concert on Sunday afternoon.

Symphony conductor Yoichi Udagawa said he is thrilled to welcome back guest pianist David Deveau, the artistic director of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival.

The concert, billed “The Late Romantic Masters,” takes place Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at its new venue at Manchester Essex Regional High School Auditorium on 36 Lincoln St. in Manchester. The public can attend an open rehearsal Saturday evening.

In the Sunday concert, Deveau will perform Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” The orchestra will perform Sibelius’ “Symphony No. 2.”

Udagawa called the Sibelius “Symphony No. 2” one of the great romantic symphonies of the 20th century.

“Its gorgeous and yet very strange melodies capture the complexity of a man who was both very conservative and radical at the same time,” he said. “I know that audiences will love this incredible symphony.”

Deveau has been playing Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto his entire adult life, likely at more than 20 performances.

“It was the first concerto I played at Boston’s Symphony Hall at age 22 with the Boston Pops, so it holds a certain sentimental value for me,” he said. “Speaking of sentiment, this concerto is such a noble and passionate work.”

But he said he had a recent epiphany regarding the work and the manner in which he will play it. Deveau recently listened to a 1930s recording of the piece by the composer himself playing it.

“It was a revelation — firstly, his tempos are almost unbelievably fast, thus providing no opportunities for sentimentality, and his tone is so elegant and refined. One often hears Rachmaninoff’s piano works beaten into submission, as if the interpreter is trying to conquer the composer — and a lot of ugly banging can result. But I found his own playing a miracle of lightness, pure tone, and never an ugly sound. This experience has changed my own view of the piece substantially.”

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