DOA in Moscow, but now very much alive
November 1, 2014
“Let this be a warning to any composer of a symphony, a piano concerto or an opera: Do not allow the première to be given in Moscow. A San Antonio unveiling might be a better bet.
Two of the major works on the San Antonio Symphony’s program Oct. 31 in the Tobin Center were first performed in Moscow, where they were both flops. The critics generally savaged both P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 (1878) and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s first large-scale work, the Piano Concerto No. 1 (1892), and audiences didn’t respond with any greater warmth. Today, of course, Tchaikovsky’s symphony is a well-loved standard, and Rachmaninoff’s concerto (in its revised form of 1917) is widely appreciated. The original version of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Forza del destino also had its première in Moscow (1862), and it, too was a flop. Verdi revised it twice, and the now-familiar overture on the symphony’s program was appended to his final version of 1869. The concert opened with the second of the season’s “American Preludes” commissions, Antonio Carlos DeFeo’s brief but fetching Promenade. Music director Sebastian Lang-Lessing was at the helm.”