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BPO performing rare piano concerto by John Ireland

The iconoclastic Englishman John Ireland was known mostly for his songs and other miniature pieces. But his piano concerto, premiered in 1930, was an immediate hit. Certain effects can remind listeners of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, which actually followed it. With its dance band effects, it was likened to Gershwin. Whatever you hear in it, the lively and varied concerto immediately took off and became, over the next few decades, the pre-eminent piano concerto written by an Englishman. Admittedly, that's a narrow category, but the music has called to notable pianists including Clifford Curzon, Gina Bachauer and Arthur Rubinstein.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is performing Ireland's concerto with Mark Bebbington at the piano. Bebbington is British and champions British music. He has made recordings of the music of numerous British composers including Sir Arnold Bax, Sir Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge and Ralph Vaughan Williams. But he branches out, too, performing Grieg on tour with the Czech National Orchestra, and recording the jazzy concertos of Gershwin.

When he joins the BPO for Ireland's concerto, it will be under the direction of Christopher Wilkins, the music director of the Akron Symphony Orchestra. To begin the concert, Wilkins is conducting the overture to "Der Freischutz," by Carl Maria von Weber. The concert ends with Sibelius' popular Symphony No. 2.

Info: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs at 10:30 a.m. May 12 and 8 p.m. May 13 in Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission is $29-$82. Call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

 

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