After spending two decades composing his first symphony (in the shadow of his formidable predecessor), Johannes Brahms wrote his second symphony in only one summer while vacationing in an Austrian lakeside town, creating a well-received musical portrait of the pastoral. For its season opener, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, under the direction of Donato Cabrera, pairs the bucolic piece and its rich melodies with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, a full-bodied, lush and energetic concerto featuring pianist Andrew Tyson.
In keeping with his dedication to contemporary music, Cabrera opens the concert with Dan Visconti’s “Breakdown,” an energetic work that saw its world premier in May with the California Symphony, for which Visconti is the Young American Composer in Residence and Cabrera is music director. It’s an evening of bold sounds leading into a season of symphonies by Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Tchaikovsky, each program also featuring works by living composers—Nathan Tanouye (a world premier by the principal trombonist commissioned by the Phil), Mason Bates, Philip Glass and D.J. Sparr.
The blend of the proven with the new is part of Cabrera’s commitment to keeping the discipline alive and fresh, as he told the Las Vegas Weekly in a previous interview: “[Orchestral] music is the only art form that has become truly stuck with art that was written hundreds of years ago. Very little of it is new. In order for it to survive, there needs to be an interest especially by musicians to promote and perform music by living composers. Maybe there is another Mozart out there just waiting to be performed, but we will never know unless we do it.”
Beethoven & Brahms Las Vegas Philharmonic season opener, September 12, 7:30 p.m., $26-$96. Smith Center's Reynolds Hall, 702-749-2000.