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Classical Pick of the Week: A Feast of the East

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This week didn't seem to be as hot as predicted, but this week's classical pick is packing some heat! Which is literally the case here, since they will have fireworks at the end of the show this Thursday at the Hollywood Bowl. The program has a distinctly Eastern flavor, with music from Russian and Chinese composers, with the world famous pianist Lang Lang and LA Phil's Assistant Principal cellist Ben Hong as the soloists. The program starts with Wu Zuqiang's arrangement of Hua Yanjun's Moon Reflected on the "Erquan" Fountain for string orchestra, followed by Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, composed for the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (if you couldn't figure that out).

The highlight of the program is the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, one of the most famous piano concerti of all time, recognizable to others outside of the classical music world. It has had the help of some notable advocates in the past, Orson Welles and Monty Python. It has outlived the critics that despised it, including Nikolai Rubinstein, who the piece was originally dedicated to. That dedication eventually went to Hans von Bulow, although Sergei Taneyev premiered the piece in Moscow and the rest of Tchaikovsky's works for piano. On a sidenote, Taneyev is probably one of the least well known composers to have one of the biggest influences in classical music; Tchaikovsky would show EVERY piece he composed to Taneyev for critique before they were published, and Taneyev taught many composition students included Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Conus, and Medtner. Lately, his piano works have been promoted by pianist Mikhail Pletnev, a world-class soloist and frequent LA Phil collaborater.