* What: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, "Immortal Beloved: Secret Lovers"
* When: 8 p.m. Saturday
* Where: Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, Alexandria
Celebrate Valentine's Day with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and its passionate interpretation of selections by Beethoven and Brahms, two of history's most romantic composers.
Continuing its 2002-03 "Hollywood" season, which explores musical dimensions of the cinema, the orchestra will evoke the film biography of Beethoven in "Immortal Beloved: Secret Lovers," a program featuring pianist Peter Serkin.
The night promises to be fueled by passion and desire as the orchestra pays tribute to Beethoven and Brahms and the muses who inspired them to make the Romantic period even more so. Both composers are rumored to have harbored secret loves.
Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved" is one of the enduring mysteries surrounding the great composer. A letter survives in his handwriting addressed to this iconic sweetheart, and scholars have long speculated on her identity. Never revealed, she nonetheless served as catalyst for some of Beethoven's most impassioned works.
For this program, the orchestra presents Beethoven's "Contradances," plus Symphony No. 3, "Eroica." Of all Beethoven's nine symphonies, the latter is considered by many to be the most accessible. While offering the energy that is a Beethoven trademark, it also contains many themes familiar not just in a classical context but also from television, movies and commercials.
Like Beethoven's, Brahms's skill as a pianist was legendary, and his works for the instrument incorporate many challenging passages. His muse was pianist Clara Schumann, and he confessed in a letter to her that the second movement of his Piano Concerto No. 1 was intended as an intimate portrait of her. Serkin, known for heightened lyricism and a sense of poetry in his performances, uses the concerto to illustrate unabashed emotion and exquisite tenderness.
New York magazine called Serkin, son of pianist Rudolf Serkin and grandson of violinist-composer Adolf Busch, "one of the supreme musicians of our time." Peter Serkin has played with many of the world's major symphony orchestras and has collaborated with Emmanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and the Budapest String Quartet, among others.
Serkin has recorded for New World Records, Sony Classical, Koch Records and BMG. His RCA collection of six Mozart concertos was selected one of the best recordings of the past two decades by Stereo Review.
Also in the Hollywood series, look for music from "Fantasia" in April and "A Night at the Oscars" in May. WETA's "Around Town" Peter Fay again will offer a 7 p.m. pre-concert discussion of the program in the Schlesinger center's upstairs seminar room.
-- Marianne Meyer
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is at North Beauregard Street and West Braddock Road on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Tickets range from $30 to $60, with discounts for seniors and students, and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 703-573-SEAT or online at www.alexsym.org. Season subscriptions are available at 703-548-0885.
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