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Ending on a high note with Beethoven and Berlioz

The 51st season of Rogue Valley Symphony’s Masterworks series is drawing to a close with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, performed by local pianist and audience favorite Alexander Tutunov, and Hector Berlioz’s rousing ‘Symphonie fantastique.’

This is Tutunov’s seventh solo performance with the RVS. “Even though he has performed with the RVS many times, it always feels like a special occasion when Alex joins us,” Music Director Martin Majkut says in a press release. “I wanted him to play something he has never played with us and, as it turns out, he has never played a concerto by Beethoven here. The Third Concerto is undoubtedly the work of a master, yet it is approachable to everyone. Alex is a perfect fit for it.”

Tutunov is the director of Keyboard Studies and an artist in residence at Southern Oregon University. He is widely recognized as one of the most outstanding virtuosos of the former Soviet Union, and was the First Prize winner of the Belarusian National Piano Competition and winner of the Russian National Piano Competition.

Tutunov maintains a busy performing schedule in Europe, China, Mexico and the United States as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, and on radio and television, and also in demand as an adjudicator for piano competitions.

Majkut says he felt Beethoven and Berlioz, both master orchestrators, were a logical pairing for the season’s finale.

“Beethoven opened this box of incredible riches and was perhaps the springboard for Berlioz,” he says in the release. “It is fun to contemplate that Berlioz is just the next generation after Beethoven.

Beethoven died in 1827 and Berlioz wrote his ‘Symphonie fantastique’ in 1830. These two works are “music that makes the world a more beautiful place,” Majkut says.

“Symphonie fantastique” tells the story of an artist gifted with a lively imagination who has poisoned himself with opium in the depths of despair because of hopeless, unrequited love, RVS says in its release. Berlioz used this work to express an unrequited love that he had for an actress.

Beethoven’s third piano concerto hearkens to Mozart’s brooding C minor concerto and is the only one of his piano concertos in minor key — the same key used in his Fifth Symphony and the Pathetique piano sonata, among other important works, according to RVS.

The Masterworks finale will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St. Majkut will give a pre-concert talk about the music one hour before each performance. Tickets are $15 to $53 for the Craterian show, and $15 to $45 for the Grants Pass show. Tickets are $15 for age 6-22 at all shows. Tickets can be purchased at rvsymphony.org or by calling 541-708-6400, and at craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

Siskiyou Institute will present a piano recital featuring Alexander Tutunov and his students.
Music Director and conductor Martin Majkut. (Photo by Christopher Briscoe)