Watts Shows off ‘Emperor’ with Omaha Symphony
June 4th, 2014
Omaha,NE — The Omaha Symphonyâ€™s season ends with a grand finale.[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/watts-web.mp3]
The Omaha Symphony concludes its season with a an epic program featuring not one but two large-scale, heroic masterpieces. One is the tone-poem â€œEin Heldenlebenâ€ by Richard Strauss. The title means â€œA Heroâ€™s Lifeâ€ and this is the first time the Omaha Symphony will perform it. Also performing is pianist Andre Watts. His career, however, started on a very different instrument.
â€œI played the violin for about 6 months – this was in Germany. We had two dogs, and I would practice standing up and they would sit next to me as I was practicing and howl,â€ he said.
Watts will perform Beethovenâ€™s â€œâ€˜Emperorâ€™ Piano Concerto No. 5â€ with the Omaha Symphony. Beethovenâ€™s first concertos were written for himself to perform as the soloist, but before he started the 5th, Fate intervened.
â€œHe was already very, very Â hard of hearing when he wrote the 4th Concerto, and played that in public with some disastrous results,â€ Watts said.
The 5th was his final piano concerto, and one Beethoven never performed in public. However, the composerâ€™s grandiose style is present right from the start!
â€œWhen he gets to the 5th Concerto, also the opening is different, but it is â€˜big orchestral chord, cadenza, other orchestral chord, cadenza, next orchestral chord, big, big cadenza, and boomâ€™, off you go,â€ Watts said. â€œHe takes three notes in succession and turns them upside-down, inside-out, different colors, this and that, and you have an incredible mosaic and then you realize, â€˜well, wait a minute, thatâ€™s only three notes!â€™â€
Watts point out that, despite having performed this music many, many times, there is always something new, always something to learn.
â€œYou re-study them and what happens is you look again at the score and think, â€˜Oh, wait a minute, thatâ€™s actually an 8th note with a rest, I think Iâ€™ve been playing that too long,â€™â€ he said. â€œOnce you decide something like that, then, of course, thereâ€™s the similar place, all the other places, there are other place that are different; it changes everything!â€
The Omaha Symphonyâ€™s program of Beethovenâ€™s â€œEmperorâ€ Piano Concerto featuring Andre Watts will be this Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8. Both performances are at the Holland Center and begin at 8 pm. More information is available at www.omahasymphony.org.
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