THE PHOENIX SYMPHONY
Beethoven and Rachmaninoff: Genius Meets Passion
Text by Tyler Phillips

Above: Attend one of the three performances of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff: Genius Meets Passion this weekend at Phoenix Symphony Hall.

The Phoenix Symphony’s Classics Series continues this weekend as composer, virtuoso pianist and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff meets the giant Ludwig van Beethoven in this program of compositional titans. Rachmaninoff’s symphonic arrangement of his lyrical masterpiece song Vocalise opens the program, followed by Beethoven’s first symphony, with its musical echoes of his teachers Haydn and Mozart. This rich program rounds out with one of the most technically challenging concertos ever written, performed by Grammy-nominated virtuoso pianist Joyce Yang.

The program, which includes three pieces, opens with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise; followed by Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven; and closes with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 30. The Virginia G. Piper Music Director, Tito Muñoz, will conduct The Phoenix Symphony and Grammy-nominated virtuoso pianist Joyce Yang will be the solo pianist in Rachmaninoff’s Concerto.

Above: Tito Muñoz is internationally recognized as one of the most gifted conductors on the podium today. 

The final piece, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 30, was composed in the summer of 1909. The concerto premiered on November 28 of that year in New York City with the composer as soloist, accompanied by the New York Symphony Society under Walter Damrosch. The work often has the reputation of being one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical piano repertoire. Owing to its difficulty, the concerto is respected, even feared, by many pianists. The concerto is scored for solo piano and an orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B-flat, two bassoons, four horns in F, two trumpets in B-flat, three trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and strings. 

Above: Grammy-nominated virtuoso pianist Joyce Yang will perform with The Phoenix Symphony in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra.

MEET JOYCE YANG

Blessed with “poetic and sensitive pianism” (The Washington Post) and a “wondrous sense of color” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang captivates audiences with her virtuosity, lyricism, and interpretive sensitivity. She first came to international attention in 2005 when she won the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The youngest contestant at 19 years old, she took home two additional awards: Best Performance of Chamber Music (with the Takàcs Quartet), and Best Performance of a New Work. In 2006 Yang made her celebrated New York Philharmonic debut alongside Lorin Maazel at Avery Fisher Hall along with the orchestra’s tour of Asia, making a triumphant return to her hometown of Seoul, South Korea.

Beethoven and Rachmaninoff: Genius Meets Passion
The Phoenix Symphony
Friday, January 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m.
www.phoenixsymphony.org