Boston Philharmonic Orchestra / Mussorgsky, Prokofiev & Tchaikovsky


Thursday, February 22, 2018, 7:30pm


Sanders Theatre

Mussorgsky, Khovanshchina Prelude; Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3; Tchaikovsky,
Symphony No. 4. Benjamin Zander, conductor. Alexander Korsantia, piano.

Presented by: Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
Tickets: See Additional Information; Harvard students: one free ticket per ID at the door starting 2 hours prior to concert start time.
How to get tickets: The Harvard Box Office 617-496-2222
Runs: 2/22, 7:30 PM (Discovery Series: Guide to the music with Benjamin Zander throughout concert); 2/25, 3 PM (Guide to the music with Benjamin Zander, 1:45pm pre-concert talk)

The third program of the season is a plunge into the heart of the Russian repertory, two beloved masterworks and the prelude to Mussorgsky’s marvelous, but sadly incomplete, last opera. Khovanshchina is a work that has had many champions—Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich—but has yet to find a firm place in the western operatic tradition. Thankfully for us the enchanting prelude, an evocation of dawn over the river Moscow, has become a staple of the concert hall.

Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia’s performances—alone, with orchestra, and in chamber music—have garnered accolades around the world, and the list of conductors he has worked with is a veritable Who’s Who. Critics everywhere have commented on his perfect technique and extraordinarily burnished tone, but perhaps what is most remarkable about him is the uniquely personal vision of everything he plays. There is never a note without a deeper intent behind it. Prokofiev’s headlong Third Piano Concerto, one of the hardest and most exhilarating in the repertory, will, for many, be their dazzling introduction to this major musician whom we are fortunate to have as a resident of Boston.

Tchaikovsky’s six symphonies divide neatly into two parts. The first three are still an attempt to keep the symphony within the normal bounds of classical musical form. The last three jettison much of what is expected of a symphonist, becoming uniquely personal in form and content. The Fourth was completed after the composer’s disastrous marriage, and the dark coloration of the first two movements possibly reflects that dark time in the composer’s life. The triumphant ending of the symphony is exhilarating but ambivalent—perhaps a bit too forced to be true. One wonders if the composer ever fully recovered from the jarring experience of his brief and doomed love affair. One of the most popular of all symphonies may also be one of the most ambivalent—does it end in exuberance, or in something else? Come to the performance and decide for yourself!