GSO Spotlights Dazzling Prokofiev Concerto

Greenville News Full Article from Greenville News Online

By Donna Isbell Walker: January 23, 2017

Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 is a wild, high-energy piece of music, and it’s not always easy to find someone who can handle such dazzling piano runs.

But for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming Masterworks concert, to be presented Jan. 28 and 29 at the Peace Center, conductor Edvard Tchivzhel called on Edisher Savitski, who teaches piano at University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

The Prokofiev concerto had its premiere in Chicago in 1921, and its intricate, energetic flavor was inspired in part by the machinery of the industrial age, Tchivzhel said.

Some of the melodies are based on Russian folk songs.

“The energy will blow the audience away,” Tchivzhel said. “It’s amazing, a new kind of dynamism in this music.”

Film exists of Prokofiev playing his own compositions, which can make it a challenge for contemporary pianists who choose to perform the same works, because “everyone knows what the composer had in mind,” Tchivzhel said. “It’s hard to choose the right person to play.”

Savitski, who has won many awards, including the Third International Piano-E-Competition in 2006, has “great technique,” Tchivzhel said.

The concert marks Savitski’s first time performing with the GSO. Savitski said he’s looking forward to playing the concerto, in part because it’s so much fun to play, despite its complexities.

“This is one of my favorite concertos in general, not just by Prokofiev,” said Savitski, a native of Tbilisi, Georgia. “It is very pianistically sound, it’s very well-written. It’s also tricky for the orchestras, I know from some of my colleagues and friends who play in different orchestras. They say it is pretty much the hardest for the orchestra, out of all of (Prokofiev’s five concertos). It’s a great piece to play for the pianist.”

The Prokofiev piece is one of three works to be spotlighted in the concert, whose theme is “In the Company of Great Romantics.”

The concert will open with Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon overture, which Tchivzhel describes as a “famous curtain-opener. It starts very mysterious and poetic. … After that, it’s followed by a very fast allegro, breathtaking music.”

For the finale, the orchestra will play Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, “an innovative piece,” Tchivzhel said.

With the work, Schumann “established a new form of symphony; there’s no break between movements. Schumann considered this work a fantasy rather than a symphony,” he said.

The piece has “an abundance of great melodies, very romantic mood and very ecstatic end.”

The GSO has three more Masterworks concerts in its 2016-2017 season: “Musical Desserts,” to be presented March 4 and 5; “Triumph of the Human Spirit,” April 8 and 9; and “Cirque de la Symphonie,” coming May 6 and 7.