When pianist Inna Faliks arrives in Durango, she’ll be between music festivals.
Having just appeared at Rhode Island’s Newport Festival (July 6-14), Faliks will perform Sunday with the Festival Orchestra in the second big Music in the Mountains concert. It’s a quick turnaround, but she’ll be playing a favorite work: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor.
The Ukranian-born pianist has played in our festival before, so she knows the territory and the drill. If you want a sneak peek, there will be an open rehearsal from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Festival Tent. You can also see and hear Faliks play a number of different works on YouTube. Calm, elegant and self-possessed, she’s a marvelous musician whom critics have described as playing with “grace and raw power.”
Faliks has had a distinguished concert and recording career. She’s also professor of piano and head of keyboard studies at the UCLA Department of Music, which frees her to concertize at summer festivals all over the world, including ours.
On Sunday, she’ll be performing Beethoven in a program framed by other well-known masterworks. And, it will be conducted by a colleague she’s worked with before: Thomas Heuser, music director of the San Juan Symphony.
“The upcoming Beethoven 3rd Piano Concerto will be our fourth collaboration,” Heuser said. “It is a joy making music with Inna. She is an elegant and thoughtful soloist who works wonderfully with orchestra.”
Heuser is making his debut as guest conductor with the Festival Orchestra.
Many months ago, Heuser said, the MITM leadership reached out and offered him the guest conducting opportunity.
“Inna was immediately the planned soloist,” he said. “Once we settled on the Beethoven – at her suggestion – the idea was to keep up the drama and highlight the MITM orchestra musicians with a big symphony on the second half.
“I studied the festival’s past repertoire and made a variety of suggestions to Maestro Figueroa. Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony brings down the house, and I am I am excited to see what we are capable of doing with this much-loved work.”
One reason Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony is popular is that the composer’s obsession with fate surfaces throughout in a provocative, hypnotic manner. Tchaikovsky threaded a musical theme representing fate through all three movements. Early in the first movement, you’ll hear the motif quietly played in the lowest register of the clarinet. In the second movement, the fate theme reappears in a threatening manner then fades only to reappear in the final movement embedded in, of all things, a waltz. It’s only in the finale where the threads tangle in a kind of struggle, resulting in a splendid coda of acceptance and affirmation. That musical journey may partly be what Heuser means when he says Tchaikovsky’s 5th will “bring down the house.”
To open the program, Heuser has chosen a contrasting work: Schubert’s short and decidedly beautiful “Overture to Rosamunde.”
“It establishes the same key and same dramatic flair as the Beethoven Concerto while offering up some of Schubert’s sweetest, most joyful melodies,” Heuser said. “From start to finish, the audience can look forward to a thrilling evening.”
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.