Last night the Schermerhorn Symphony Center presented the Nashville Symphony with Jon Kimura Parker performing Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op 43.” Guest conducting the concert was maestro Gilbert Varga, son of the celebrated Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga.
The first thing that caught your attention if you happened to be amongst the full house at the elegant Schermerhorn Center may very well have been the demeanor of the renowned Varga, with his joyfully energetic body movements, encouraging nods of the head and the elegant baton technique for which he is quite well known.
It seemed as if Varga paid special mind to each orchestra section, made eye contact with every individual member of that section and with purpose and distinct guidance, led and inspired the Nashville Symphony to go beyond playing music — albeit always beautifully performed music — to paint a picture in your mind of village people dancing spritefully to the sounds of a Hungarian folk dance in Zoltan Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta”; inspired by what Zoltan described as “the most beautiful seven years” of his childhood, spent in a small Hungarian town called Galanta.
The true excitement of the evening began when internationally renowned pianist and professor of piano at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Jon Kimura Parker sat down to his piano to play Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagani, Op. 43.” The audience remained in rapt attention as Parker’s fingers seemed to dance magically through all 24 variations of the Rhapsody, and roared with approval and applause in what seemed a two or three minute standing ovation.
The orchestra finished the evening with Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D Minor, which begins softly, an air of mystery prevalent, with the plucking of strings and the mournful sounds of the harp, and ends with a vibrantly dramatic atmosphere.
Up next at our most beautifully designed and decorated music venue, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, is David Higgs on organ in a special event on April 1 at 2:00 p.m., followed by Steve Wariner April 5-7, as part of the always fun Pops Series, conducted by the irrepressible Albert-George Schram.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Nashvillesymphony.org.