Richard Dowling Opens Pro Musica Season, Playing World’s Greatest Piano Hits
By Michael Pearl
Renowned pianist Richard Dowling returns to San Miguel to launch the opening of Pro Musica’s new season on Saturday, October 11, 5pm, at St. Paul’s Church, with a concert entitled “The World’s Greatest Piano Hits.” Dowling has brought together a cornucopia of his favorite pieces from his vast repertoire in a program, put together especially for Pro Musica. This will be not only classical music that you all know and love, but also serious virtuosic playing, with the added bonus of Dowling’s insightful, and often amusing, comments about the pieces he plays.
Pro Musica Concert Series
Richard Dowling, piano
Sat, Oct 11, 5pm
St. Paul’s Church
Dowling was hailed by The New York Times as”an especially impressive, fine pianist,” and he appears regularly across the United States in solo recitals, at chamber music and jazz/ragtime festivals, and as a guest soloist in concerto performances with orchestras. An artist of international stature, his career highlights include a sold-out New York orchestral debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, a solo recital at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, and a special award from the National Federation of Music Clubs, recognizing his outstanding performances of American music.
One of the highlights of this concert will be Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which gets its name from the sense of delicate moonbeams invoked by the first movement, in complete contrast, as we know, to the tempestuous finale. We will also hear the composer’s incomparable Fur Elise, a heart-rending piece invoking the infatuation of young love.
Chopin will be well represented in the program, including one of the greatest pieces ever written for solo piano, the Fantaisie Impromptu, both virtuosic and lyrical, the theme of which was famously reincarnated as the popular tune, “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.” Of equal stature is the Polonaise Heroique, the name coming from George Sand’s rapturous description of the music as inspiration, force, vigor, and un symbole héroïque.
No program of the world’s greatest piano pieces would be complete without music by Franz Liszt, probably the greatest pianist who ever lived. We will hear the third of his Liebestraum (Love’s Dream) cycle, celebrating unconditional, mature love. To this will be added the excitement of the composer’s most famous Hungarian Rhapsody, No.2 in C sharp minor.
Moving forward two centuries, Dowling will play several pieces by Rachmaninoff, including his Prelude in C sharp minor, Op.3, No.2, one of his most familiar compositions. Also included is the composer’s 18th Variation from a Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, an iconic melody that has become part of our cultural fabric, representing the pinnacle of Romantic lyrical expressiveness.
Rachmaninoff declined to compose the music for the World War II film, Dangerous Moonlight, and so it was British composer Richard Addinsell who wrote the music of the Warsaw Concerto for it, which he did in Rachmaninoff’s passionate romantic style. It will be fascinating to hear these works side by side, because the orchestrator, Roy Douglas, had a copy of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with him as he worked, and the recording of the soundtrack sold millions of copies