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Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks become Romantic

Cellist Zuill Bailey is set to perform alongside the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.  Credit: Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Cellist Zuill Bailey is set to perform alongside the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.
Credit: Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s sixth segment in its Masterworks series, Romantic Passions, plans to showcase music representative of the Romantic era.

The performance works scheduled to be performed Friday and Saturday are Antonín Dvořák’s “Cello Concerto in B Minor,” César Franck’s symphony in D minor and Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1.”

Jacques Lacombe, music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, is slated to be a guest conductor at the CSO for the evening. Also scheduled to perform as a guest is prominent cellist Zuill Bailey, a University of Texas at El Paso professor of cello whose album, “Britten Cello Symphony/Cello Sonata,” has reached No. 1 on the Classical Billboard Charts. He is slated to perform Dvorák’s “Cello Concerto.”

Bailey has been playing music since he was a small child, and explained that this particular cello concerto is close to his heart.

“This is one of the first pieces that I played in public. One of my earliest memories is performing it with a youth symphony.”

However, Bailey also said his fond memories aren’t the only reason why he likes this piece of music.

“This piece is considered by most to be arguably the greatest cello concerto ever written and is one of the finest concertos for any instrument,” Bailey said. “I feel as though I’m tied to the front of a freight train with this piece — it has such power.”

Guest conductor Lacombe said the pieces were selected for the Masterworks series because they were all written around the same time, in three different nationalistic styles, but each piece was influenced by the German tradition in some way.

“It’s very interesting how they were able to bring out their own nationality, but through German influence.” Lacombe said. “The structure of the music was important — German music is built from the bottom up. In all those pieces, the music is an expression of passion, going forward, and then holding back. It is very passionate in the way the phrases are built.”

Franck talent as an organist is reflected in his music, Lacombe continued.

“Franck was an organist — you can hear this in his music,” Lacombe said. “In the score, there’s a lot of effects of soft to loud back to soft, it swells quickly. That comes directly from organ music. Frank tried to replicate what he did with his organ.”

However, not all of the music selections were originally well-received, said Christopher Purdy, WOSU Classical 101.1 FM host and pre-concert lecturer for the CSO.

“Franck’s ‘Symphony in D Minor’ is a big, sweeping, dramatic symphony, but the premiere was not well-liked. In fact, the orchestra did not even want to play it,” Purdy said. “People walked out. Franck was known as an organist, a builder, an outsider.”

In spite of this fact, Purdy said he thought the work was wonderful.

“This piece is very audience-friendly. You could leave humming the tunes,” he said.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform the pieces at the Ohio Theatre, located at 39 E. State St. Performances are set to start each night at 8 p.m. on both Wednesday and Saturday, with tickets starting at $25 on Ticketmaster.

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