There are two ways to plan a date night: the smart, successful way and…uh….
Face it – coming up with the perfect date night is no small feat. So, what exactly are the elements that make up a great date night. Flowers? Okay. Candy? Sure. Why not? Drinks? Dinner? Definitely.
Now what? Head over to the Gridiron Bar for a round of brews and darts with the gang…again? A movie…again? A ballgame? All good under normal circumstances. But ultimate? Hardly. And all the others, the flowers/candy/drinks/dinner? In and of themselves, they’re like a group of cruise ships stranded on the floor of a desert. And the water it will take to get them afloat on the ocean of love? The missing ingredient?
Romance is passion, emotional – not physical – passion. Something that stirs the soul before it ever gets to stirring any body parts. So, unless you want your ultimate date night leaving you and your date looking like Steve Carell and Tina Fey facing some fairly dire and unforeseen consequences, you better have a plan that includes romance…real romance.
Your grandparents had a plan. It involved listening to Frank Sinatra crooning Full Moon and Empty Arms, I Think of You, or Ever and Forever. Or the background music in films such as Brief Encounter and The Seven Year Itch. And your parents doubtless listened to Eric Carmen’s All By Myself. These works of former generations share a pedigree with a lot of today’s music performed by such notables as Muse (Space Dementia, Butterflies and Hurricanes, Megalomania, Ruled by Secrecy, and Neutron Star Collision [Love Is Forever]). Amici Forever (Nostalgia). It’s even used in Clint Eastwood’s 2010 film, Hereafter.
What is this musical aphrodisiac that spawned all of the tunes and film scores I just mentioned? It was a singular work by a composer who hailed from Czarist Russia. His name was Sergey Rachmaninoff (Sayr-Gay-Eee Rock-Mawn-In-Nawf). The work was his Second Piano Concerto. And everywhere in it there is passion:
Bell-like ringings on the piano that build tension. A Russian-character melody. The notes of chords played in succession. A lyrical second theme. Agitated and unstable development. A switch to a march-like theme. Then to slow chords. A short climax . Fast tempo. Musical drama. A lyrical theme leads to a long period of development tension. A loud, strong restatement of the second theme ending quickly, ecstatically.
Was it good for you?
All this came from a poor little rich kid, a Russian who became “one of the most formidable pianists of all time and the last truly great composer in the Russian Romantic tradition.” (from allmusic.com) Born in 1873 and conservatory-trained, Rachmaninoff wrote the Second Piano Concerto in 1901. Following the Russian Revolution he left for the U.S. in 1917, living between there and Switzerland while making American and European concert tours. He died in Beverly Hills in 1943 shortly after becoming an American citizen leaving behind a treasure trove of musical compositions.
Passion was the hallmark of Rachmaninoff’s playing and composing. And none of his works are more passionate than Rach 2, the codename touring pianists use when referring to his Second Piano Concerto. Playing Rach 2 is one thing. Playing it with the intensity, passion, and drive required of it by its composer and first performer requires exceptional talent, skill, and game.
And the DPO has just the pianist for the task. His name is Yakov Kasman. Since his debut in America in 1997 as Silver Medalist in the Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, he has performed concerts in the U.S., Russia, Europe, and Asia and appeared as soloist with more than 40 orchestras. Did I mention that he is Russian? Can’t hurt, right?
Power, eloquence, a virile technique, and a compelling artistic vision mark Kasman’s playing. In praise of Kasman, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Kasman’s style glimmers with the best of Russian schooling: the unabashed caressing of a line, the tempo liberties that dance around a solid beat, the virile technique and voluptuous sound ….”
In other words, game.
Romance. Passion. These are the elements that make up a truly great date night. An ultimate date night. And this season, the DPO has a choice of two nights for your ultimate date, Thursday September 22 and Saturday September 24 at 8 pm in the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. Two nights on either (or both!) of which you can enjoy Yakov Kasman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. The program opens with Gian Carlo Menotti’s Lewisohn Stadium Fanfare and ends with the über-powerful Shostakovich Fifth Symphony. In between the two, you and your date will experience all the romance and passion of one of the most widely performed and certainly most prolific sources of musical compositions ever created, “Rach 2”, the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto.
After that, it only remains to say Bonsoir et Bonne Chance!
Keyboard Thunder – Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
September 22 & 24 at Schuster Center, 8 pm
Take Note at Mead Theatre, 7pm