Art Beat: Fairbanks orchestra season includes one program of Rachmaninoff rarities

Mike Dunham

Eduard Zilberkant, the pianist in the first weekend of Alaska Airlines Autumn Classics last month, is also the conductor of the orchestra in Fairbanks. Before the performances we had the chance to talk about his upcoming programs there.

Of particular interest to me is an all-Rachmaninoff program containing none of the usual suspects. Zilberkant has programmed "The Isle of the Dead," the Fourth Piano Concerto and the First Symphony. Few of these are standard concert fare; in fact Rachmaninoff himself never heard the symphony aside from its first performance, which drew one of the most inflammatory negative reviews in history from fellow composer Cesar Cui. Rachmaninoff burned the score and fell into a deep depression. Only after his death did someone find the instrumental parts in a Russian conservatory and reconstruct the piece -- a student work, but big and ambitious with many delightful moments.

That concert takes place at 4 p.m. on Oct. 28 in UAF's Davis Concert Hall. Gabriele Leporatti will be the piano soloist in the concerto.

Zilberkant will also lead the Fairbanks forces in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the end of April.

Reviews online

September storms, humidity, barometric pressure and climate control issues in Grant Hall bedeviled some of the instruments at the first weekend of the Autumn Classics. Catherine Weinfield found her oboe affected by the moisture. The piano seemed to respond as if someone had put gum into the action. Zilberkant said there were times when it felt like his fingers were sticking to the keys.

Nonetheless, there were excellent performances of big works all three nights, including Beethoven's String Trio in C Minor, Brahms' Piano Quartet in G Minor and Piano Trio in B Major, and Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata. The common thread between all of these was violinist Elmar Oliveira, due back in Anchorage in November to perform the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Anchorage Symphony.

I was able to post reviews of two of the programs online ( night 1, night 2 ) before leaving town two weeks ago. But I missed both the ASO's season opener and, lamentably, the second week of the Autumn Classics. If any music lover who did attend those shows cares to email their thoughts to me, I'll be glad to post them at the site and refer readers to it in this column. That invitation applies to ALL genres, by the way, including plays, dance events, art shows -- yes, book reviews, too -- whether you loved 'em or not.

Meanwhile, a review of Anchorage Opera's premiere of Victoria Bond's "Mrs. President" is the latest addition to the site. The opera had its debut on Friday night and repeats for one more Anchorage performance today. We'll have a review of "Shrek" tomorrow.



Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.


Blog: Art Snob