GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 21, 2013

Pianist joins symphony for Romantic concert

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — 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.”

Deveau has performed as a soloist in many of the world’s leading concert venues over the last three decades, including performances with the Minnesota Orchestra and the symphonies in Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston, St. Louis and Miami.

Deveau, known for his expressive and poetic interpretations of repertoire, is in his 17th year as artistic director of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival.

For those unable to attend Sunday, there is an open rehearsal on Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Manchester Essex Regional High School auditorium. Udagawa will take questions from the audience following the rehearsal.

Udagawa said it is going to be a pleasure working again with Deveau.

“He’s a superb world class pianist,” he said.

Udagawa said the piece Deveau is performing is among the most popular pieces ever written.

“It’s just one gorgeous melody after another,” he said. “It’s a piece everybody loves to love, including the conductor, pianist, the orchestra, the audience, and even the critics love it.”

Deveau has been on the music faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1988. He has taught master classes in association with the Longy School, San Francisco Conservatory, and at Harvard University and Dartmouth College. Locally, he has performed as a soloist with the Boston Pops, the Handel and Haydn Society, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and the Boston Philharmonic. In New York, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum. In September 2010, Deveau made his second concert tour of China, this time with appearances in Shanghai, following his debut tour in 2006 with concerts in Beijing and Qingdao.

Post-concert benefit performance

A special event takes place following the March 24 concert in which child prodigy Kadar Qianwill perform at a benefit reception for the Cape Ann Symphony, which was founded in 1951. Immediately following the concert at the nearby high school, the 15-year-old piano prodigy will play a solo concert at a special reception at Essex County Club in Manchester.

Udagawa said this is an opportunity to hear first an experienced master at the afternoon concert, and then a young up-and-coming pianist.

“It’s a nice juxtaposition. Kadar Qian is one of the most gifted young talents I have ever encountered. Some members of the Cape Ann Symphony audience might remember his unforgettable performance of the Chopin ‘Piano Concerto No. 2’ when he was only 13,” said Udagawa. “Now at 15, he is really coming to another level. He will be performing Liszt’s wickedly difficult ‘Mephisto Waltz,’ which he plays brilliantly.”

The reception includes a selection of hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Tickets for the reception are $50. A ticket for both events (the concert and reception) is $75. For tickets and information, call 978-281-0543 or visit www.capeannsymphony.org.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

If you go Who and what: Cape Ann Symphony's "Late Romantic Masters Concert." When: Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. Where: Manchester Essex Regional High School auditorium, 36 Lincoln St. in Manchester. The venue is handicapped accessible. How much: $35 for adults, $30 for senior citizens, $20 for young adults (ages 19-24) and free for children 18 years old and younger. For information, call 978-281-0543 or visit www.capeannsymphony.org. Open rehearsal for the "Late Romantic Masters" concert is Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the same venue. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 18 years old and younger. Details: For information, call 978-281-0543 or visit www.capeannsymphony.org.