Pacific Symphony: February concerts

Pacific Symphony will perform in 12 concerts during the month of February. Here’s your quick, mobile-friendly guide to them, with link to tickets.

Having forged a musical friendship with Carl St.Clair through solo appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, Ukrainian pianist Alexander Romanovsky, winner of the Busoni Competition at the ripe age of 17, in 2001, makes his debut with Pacific Symphony (Feb. 1-3). His vehicle will be the impossibly difficult and wonderfully barbed Piano Concerto No. 2 by Prokofiev. St.Clair and the orchestra open the program with the Third Symphony of Brahms. The distinguished American composer Paul Chihara’s celebratory “Wild Wood” from 2015 will also be heard, in the world premiere of a new version for orchestra. Tickets here

At 3 p.m. on Feb. 4, the musicians perform a shortened version of the same program without intermission. Chihara’s piece and the Prokofiev concerto are reprised in their entirety; the third movement of the Brahms provides contrast. Tickets here

The next installment of the Family Musical Mornings series is Feb. 3, an opera for kids program featured a masked ball for super heroes set to selections from Johann Strauss, Jr.’s “Die Fledermaus.” Roger Kalia conducts; students from Chapman University’s opera program sing. Two performances. Tickets here

The Symphony’s annual Chinese New Year celebration will feature a long list of performers and a program spanning Eastern and Western music (Feb. 10). Carl St.Clair leads the multidisciplinary extravaganza. Tickets here

The Cafe Ludwig chamber music series continues with a program that honors both the 100th birthday of Bernstein and the 80th birthday of Steve Reich. Music by Bernstein (the Sonata for Clarinet), Reich (the Quartet for two pianos and two vibraphones), Hanson, Schoenfeld and Ewazen is performed. Tickets here

Conductor Richard Kaufman returns to the Pops Series, this time focused on the “yacht rock” of Christopher Cross, the stellar guest on this occasion (Feb. 16-17). Tickets here

The month closes with three performances of Mozart’s final opera “The Magic Flute,” in semi-staged performances on Feb. 21, 23 and 27. Robert Neu is the stage director; Robin Walsh is lasted as  “puppet designer” (that should be fun) and Katie Wilson the costume designer. John Tessier (Tamino), Hadleigh Adams (Papageno) and Tess Altiveros (Pamina) head the cast. Tickets here

Interview: Pianist Alexander Romanovsky to make Pacific Symphony debut with Prokofiev’s Second Concerto


Alexander Romanovsky is a Ukrainian pianist who lives in southern Switzerland, near Lugano, about 400 meters from the Italian border. When he goes jogging in the morning he likes to venture into the neighboring country, the border guards not even bothering to stop him. “No, they know me already,” Romanovsky says with a smile.

The pianist was speaking recently on Skype, where his image fluctuated between ghostly and frozen but where generally his talk came through. He isn’t well known in the U.S. yet, having played here but little. (He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic at the Bravo! Vail Festival and with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia.) He’ll be making his California debut with Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony in concerts Feb. 1-4 at Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Romanovsky and St.Clair are well acquainted though. The two met for the first time in Costa Rica a couple of years ago when the pianist came to perform Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra there, for which St.Clair serves as music director.

Continue reading

Video: Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2

Alexander Romanovsky will perform this piece with Pacific Symphony on Feb. 1-4.

Meanwhile, you can get it in your ears by listening to Yuja Wang play it with the Berlin Philharmonic, Paavo Jarvi conducting. It’s considered one of the most technically daunting concertos for pianists in the repertoire.

Audio: Prokofiev ‘Scythian Suite’


When I was in college, a brass player majoring in music, the Chicago Symphony set the gold standard for brass playing, and my fellow music students and I always listened to their records with mouths agape. I was reminded of this again the other day, when I slapped this recording (yes, vinyl) on my record player at home and turned up the volume. It’s the second movement, “The Enemy God and the Dance of the Spirits of Darkness,”  from Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite.” The brass playing is superb and, what’s more, exciting. The percussion section keeps pace, the timpani getting the whole thing off to a nice rumbling start.