Music Review: Saint Saens’ Organ Symphony

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Nashville Symphony presents:
Aegis Sciences Classical Series: Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony (Feb. 7-8; All ages)
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
687-6400 • nashvillesymphony.org
Show time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $23 – $138

A stellar night of classical music fills the Laura Turner Concert Hall at our beloved Schermerhorn Symphony Center with the Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony. The delightful evening includes music by Gioachino Rossini, Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saens, and your family will love it!

Masterful maestro Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the orchestra, and it’s always a treat to experience him leading the musicians. He’s always a powerful and animated conductor, and children will no doubt be enamored by watching him make orchestral music come to life.

First up is Rossini’s “Overture to Semiramide.” An interesting note is that the opera, Semiramide, is rarely performed in opera houses, but the overture has a life of its own in concert halls across the globe. Wonderful crescendos and allegros make this the perfect opening number.

Next up is Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G,” with special guest pianist Conrad Tao. This 20-year-old tears up the ivories during this amazing set of music that truly taps into childlike awe. This set is what makes music truly great — everyone listening to it can enjoy a collective experience and take away individual interpretations at the same time. This delightful romp is fun and perhaps you, too, will have visions of waterfalls, fluttering butterflies, glowing fireflies and children skipping through flowery fields. An extra special treat is Tao’s encore performing a fantastic rendition of a classic Gershwin number.

After intermission, the symphony dives right in to Saint-Saens’ powerful “Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 (Organ Symmphony).” The composer debuted this amazing work on May 19, 1886, when he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. It might seem as a little bit of a head-scratcher at first given the props to the organ as the star of the night given that it’s silent for quite a stretch. It finally surfaces at the apex of the build-up of harmonic and textural ideas … the organ makes its entry in a discreet manner at first creating a contemplative mood. It becomes more bold during the second half of the piece. Although the Saint-Saens’ piece is masterfully performed, and it is a beautiful piece of classical music, I left wishing for a bit more of the organ experience. It would’ve been nice for the organist to deliver an encore at the end and really wail on that powerful instrument.

It is a great night of music overall, and one that you should share with your kids.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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