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WHAT: Cellist Carter Brey with the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by JoAnn Falletta

WHEN: 7:30 tonight and 8 p.m. Saturday; preconcert talks one hour earlier

WHERE: Kleinhans Music Hall

ADMISSION: $19 to $60

INFO: (716) 885-5000

There are a number of intriguing highlights in this weekend's pair of concerts by the Buffalo Philharmonic, not the least of which is the return to Buffalo of cellist Carter Brey. Now the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, Brey was, for nearly two decades prior to that 1996 appointment, a brilliant touring soloist.

Early in his career Brey was married to the Buffalo pianist Barbara Weintraub, and the duo gave several private and public performances here. He had won the 1981 Rostropovich International Competition and was well known, but still unable to afford a pedigreed instrument. The disparity between Brey's art and his decent but undistinguished cello was so obvious that it came to be known as "Brey's box." He now plays a magnificent 1754 Guadagnini, which this weekend's audiences will hear in the beautiful, heart-weary Cello Concerto by Sir Edward Elgar, written in 1919 when the composer was despondent over his wife's health and the state of the post-war world.

JoAnn Falletta will also conduct Respighi's colorful "Church Windows" and the Notturno in G-Flat Major by Giuseppe Martucci (1856-1909). Martucci was championed by Toscanini, but this will be the BPO's first performance of any of his works. The concerts will open with the final installment in the Frederick Converse recording project for Naxos Records. It's the 1926 "Flivver Ten Million: A Joyous Epic," commissioned by the Ford Motor Co. to celebrate the 10 millionth Model T Ford. Its eight sections chronicle a day in the life of a car, from "Dawn in Detroit" to the inevitable "Collision" and the repaired car in "Phoenix Americanus," tooling down the road (in Converse's words) "with redoubled energy typical of the indomitable spirit of America."

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