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ECSO concert features pianist Vijay Venkatesh

Published October 24. 2013 4:00AM
Pianist Vijay Venkatesh will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Piano No. 1.

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Toshi Shimada, opens its 2013-14 season at the Garde Arts Center with a program that starts with Disney and ends with war and peace.

Opening the season will be Dukas "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," beloved by millions for the Mickey Mouse animation of the tone poem in the film "Fantasia."

Mickey gets bumped aside for young pianist Vijay Venkatesh, who will be soloist in Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Piano No. 1 in B flat minor, another work dear to Americans for its associations. It was playing this concerto that a 23-year-old Texan charmer named Van Cliburn kicked down Iron Curtain prejudices in 1958 by winning the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Shimada performed this expressive and showy concerto with Venkatesh last year in a piano competition in California.

Then the concert concludes with Nielsen's Symphony No. 4, called "Inextinguishable." This symphony (scheduled for last winter but cancelled by an unscheduled blizzard) was the Danish composer's emotional response to the horror of World War I, and what is clearly "inextinguishable" is the human spirit. The final movement, with timpani split on opposite sides of the stage to exchange aural cannonades until a soaring theme ends the war, is a memorable and moving concert experience.

- MILTON MOORE

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra,
8 p.m. Saturday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $32-$62, with senior discounts; (860) 443-2876, gardearts.org.

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