Maestro Ponti Previews Paducah Symphony's Opening Night: 'Brahms 4'

Sep 14, 2018

Classical Producer George Eldred spoke with Raffaele Ponti, conductor of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, about the opening night of the 2018-2019 season this weekend. 

The maestro expressed excitement about having Joan Kwuon as soloist for the first violin concerto by German composer Max Bruch. They'll also perform the Overture to Russlan and Ludmille by Glinka, a piece chock-full of Russian styles. Ponti also tells how Johannes Brahms carried on the traditions of Bach and Beethoven in his fourth symphony.

The overture to the opera Russlan and Ludmilla by Mikhail Glinka is an example of a number of operas where only the overture is performed. Conductor Raffaele Ponti said, "It's one of these things where the overture lives on, but nobody performs it [the opera itself] or maybe rarely."

"And the orchestral arrangement is full of Russian idioms and ideas and that flair for tempo.  And flashy!  It's a great way to start the concert,” he said.

Speaking of the first violin concerto by German composer Max Bruch, Ponti said that many composers wrote concerti specifically for a certain soloist.  "Bruch would work with a violin soloist that he wrote it for to make sure it was playable," he said, because some off the pieces were too difficult for the average soloist of the day to play.

Johannes Brahms was somewhat intimidated as a symphonist following the reputation of Beethoven, finding it difficult to put pen to paper. Said Ponti,"He proved that he could. He wrote in his lifetime four major symphonies, but they're epic!  In size and importance. And I find this to be a remarkable work.  On every level." 

The Paducah Symphony Orchestra opens its new season Saturday, September 15th at the Carson Center in Paducah. 

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