Plymouth Harbor has been delighting in the semi-annual performances of its resident professional classical pianist, Ted Rehl. Another concert is open to the public this Thursday, October 18 at 4 pm. Ted has prepared a delicious sounding program titled, “Picturesque Russia,” featuring the music of the great Russian composers Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Modest Mussorgsky.
Having said that he now practices and performs the music that he wants to perform and particularly enjoys, Ted has selected a Prelude by Prokofiev, which sounds enticing. There will also be a total of four more Preludes by Rachmaninoff, including his most famous two, the C sharp minor and the G minor Preludes.
The highlight of the program will be the multi-media experience of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Ted will perform the original version for solo piano, while images of watercolors which inspired Mussorgsky to compose this colorful music in the first place. Many of us are familiar with the orchestral arrangement of this music by Maurice Ravel that is played by orchestras all over the world.
“This type of thing has been done various other places around the world, but to my knowledge it has never been done in Sarasota,” says Ted.
The musical material of Pictures at an Exhibition are based on drawings and watercolors by artist and architect Viktor Hartmann produced mostly during the artist’s travels abroad. Locales include Poland, France and Italy; the final movement depicts an architectural design for the capital city of Ukraine. Today most of the pictures from the Hartmann exhibit are lost, making it impossible to be sure in many cases which Hartmann works Mussorgsky had in mind. Yet musicologists over the years have pieced together the puzzle and the images you will see are based on their best research.
Mussorgsky links the suite’s movements in a way that depicts the viewer’s own progress through the exhibition. Two “Promenade” movements stand as portals to the suite’s main sections. Their regular pace and irregular meter depicts the act of walking. Three untitled interludes present shorter statements of this theme, varying the mood, color and key in each to suggest reflection on a work just seen or anticipation of a new work glimpsed. A turn is taken in the work at the “Catacombae” when the Promenade theme stops functioning as merely a linking device and becomes, in “Cum mortuis”, an integral element of the movement itself. The theme reaches its height of grandeur in the suite’s finale, The Bogatyr Gates.
“The Pictures was one of the pieces I enjoyed playing during my teaching career,” shares Ted. “I am amazed that it seems easier to play now than it was in my first life!”
Alluding to his first life, Ted means his career as a professional musician and educator and the long hiatus between his official retirement and the re-emergence of his performing life after he moved to Plymouth Harbor. An earlier post, Life, Love and the Right Piano, tells the story of Fran and Ted Rehl’s life of music together.
Everyone is welcome to attend this concert in Pilgrim Hall, as seating allows. If you’d like, you can even purchase a CD Ted recorded earlier in the year. Proceeds of CD sales benefit the Plymouth Harbor Foundation.