From its passionate opening symphony to its romantic finish, the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s All-Tchaikovsky Program is the perfect choice for a Valentine’s Day date.
First on the bill, Tchaikovsky’s final symphony, the popular No. 6 (“Pathetique”), at the top of the orchestral food chain. Considered autobiographical, the powerful work takes the audience on an emotional journey from the exuberance of youth to an acceptance of mortality. Look for the Phil’s excellent brass and wind sections to shine on their various solos. Don’t wait, however, for a big finish; this is the rare symphony with a quiet ending.
In the 20th century, when composers were exploring the atonality of modernism, a majority of critics, academicians and musicians dismissed Tchaikovsky’s melodic and accessible music, calling it trivial and even vulgar. Now, with the advent of a neo-romantic trend, orchestras are programming lesser-known Tchaikovsky material. The two infrequently programmed centerpieces—the graceful and elegant Rococo Variations and the haunting Nocturne in D Minor—fall into this category. Cellist Zuill Bailey, the evening’s featured soloist and a member of the acclaimed Perlman-Schmidt-Bailey Trio, is well known for his recordings of this material. TV audiences also might be familiar with his role as a murderous cellist in HBO series Oz.
The program’s final work, the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy, is known primarily for its love theme, a melody used in movies and TV shows from The Jazz Singer (1927) to SpongeBob SquarePants. The lush melodies and dramatic orchestration capture the essence of the Shakespeare drama and reinforce the romantic spirit of the holiday.