At the BPO, the Pipa and the ‘Pleasure Dome’ - The Buffalo News
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At the BPO, the Pipa and the ‘Pleasure Dome’

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is broadening its horizons this weekend with exotic music flavored by the East. Some of the music is well-known, some is new and novel. Matthew Kraemer conducts.

A proven hit is Alexander Borodin’s “In the Steppes of Central Asia.” This little gem imagines two caravans crossing an Asian plain. One, a military caravan of czarist Russia, is identified by a bright, robust theme. The other, an Arab caravan, has a lovely, languorous melody – an arabesque, you could say. Both start in the distance, build as the caravans meet and pass each other, then fade.

Charles Tomlinson Griffes’ “The Pleasure Dome of Kubla Khan” also is vivid and evocative in its way. The BPO and JoAnn Falletta have recorded this music for Naxos. Debussy’s Nocturnes add impressionistic ambience and will feature the women of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.

The novelty of the concert is the Pipa Concerto of Zhao Jiping. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man, above, will be the soloist. Jiping’s music, heard memorably in such movies as “To Live” and “Farewell My Concubine,” fuses traditions of East and West. The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese instrument that resembles a large lute and can have a kind of balalaika sound. The concerto was written for Wu Man.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission is $34-$76. Call 885-5000.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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