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Pianist Alain Lefevre returns to BPO

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is welcoming back a dramatic and memorable pianist, Alain Lefèvre. Lefèvre, a virtuoso from Quebec who has been the recipient of many honors and awards, made what must be BPO history. On two separate occasions, he got the BPO's Steinway concert grand rolling. Was it the force of his performance? Did he handle the piano differently? Most importantly, will it happen again this time around?

We will be able to answer at least that last question when Lefèvre returns Feb. 4 and 5 with what promises to be another barn-burner of a concerto. He will be performing the Concerto No. 3 by forgotten prodigy, composer and pianist André Mathieu, who is called the Canadian Mozart. Lefèvre is a famed champion of the music of Mathieu, who died in 1968. He performed a Mathieu concerto in 2013 with the BPO. The concerto he played then was based on fragments and, while you could argue about its ultimate merits, had glimmers of Rachmaninoff, and drama throughout. The Third Concerto, the music he is bringing with him this time, offers a more finished look at Mathieu's genius. It is called the Concerto de Quebec and is extravagantly, deliriously romantic and virtuosic. The Andante movement is pure loveliness, very much like Rachmaninoff. It was  Lefèvre's 2003 recording of this concerto that sparked widespread interest in Mathieu and his work. You can find that recording on YouTube should you want to preview the piece.

The BPO intends this concert as a toast to the longstanding friendship between the United States and Canada. The program opens with a short piece by Michael Colgrass, called "As Quiet As...." Rounding out the concert are two American favorites, Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts the performances, which take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 4 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Tickets are $29-$82. Call 885-5000.

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