RDSO pays tribute to first classical rock god

While reaction fell a little short of Lisztomania, there was plenty of enthusiasm as Red Deer Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to classical music’s first rock god Franz Liszt.

While reaction fell a little short of Lisztomania, there was plenty of enthusiasm as Red Deer Symphony Orchestra paid tribute to classical music’s first rock god Franz Liszt.

A mesmerizing virtuoso pianist with swoon-inducing good looks as a young man, Liszt created a 1960s Beatles-like buzz dubbed Lisztomania in its day.

Despite his bad boy beginnings featuring much boozing and scandalous affairs, Liszt evolved into a dedicated and reflective composer.

Four of his works were performed on Saturday to mark the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth on Oct. 22, 1811.

The concert opened with Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, as orchestrated by Karl Müller-Berghaus, a piece that draws on Liszt’s fascination with Hungarian folk music and the tunes played by the Roma people, or Gypsies.

Melodies Liszt picked up from his travels to Gypsy communities were incorporated into the rhapsody, which follows a traditional Hungarian form that sees a slow section leading into a lighter, higher tempo section.

In Hungarian Rhapsody, the faster second half has been frequently borrowed for cartoons where its lightning-fast tempo and jaunty melody are a natural fit. It was impossible not to conjure up memories of Bugs Bunny’s Rhapsody Rabbit .

In the second piece, Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major, the audience was introduced to guest pianist Sandor Falvai of Hungary.

Falvai has been a professor at the Liszt Academy of Music since 1972 and has enjoyed an award-winning international career that has spanned decades and produced more than 30 recordings.

The piece opens with an almost dream-like contribution from the piano before a sudden switch of tempo gave Falvai an opportunity to showcase his well-recognized skills. The movement of his hands and his light touch was a joy to watch. He didn’t so much as play the piano as coax notes from the instrument.

The piece itself switched back and forth from lightness to stirring passages that at one point even had echoes of a martial air before ending in a flourish that drew a standing ovation.

The second piece featuring Falvai, Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies, opens with an almost ominous tone that soon gives way to Falvai’s piano and his effortless moves between delicate and powerful key strokes.

At times, the piano and orchestra seemed to duel playfully before uniting for the big finish.

The pieces pose such a challenge that they were purposely placed before and after intermission to give Falvai a rest between solos, said conductor Claude Lapalme.

Les Préludes — Symphonische Dichtung rounded out the concert and felt the most mellow. Although with Liszt, the music never sits still.

A long reflective section soon gave way to a dramatic change in mood like a sudden windstorm rising and whipping through trees only to be followed by the plaintive sound of woodwinds as calm is once again restored.

It all ended with joyful exuberance of booming kettle drums and crashing cymbals that once again had the audience on their feet.

In a nice touch, the concert opened with the playing of both the Hungarian and Canadian national anthems, as well as a short introduction from Hungary’s honorary consul to Alberta.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read