Symphony of the Shores | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Symphony of the Shores 

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SYMPHONY OF THE SHORES

Famous of course for his Mission: Impossible theme, the Argentinean-born Lalo Schifrin doesn't quite belong in the pantheon of film composers Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Henry Mancini. But he's definitely second echelon, a prolific, adroit tunesmith who's always ready to churn out atmospheric materials for Hollywood blockbusters and TV series. His eclectic style reflects a background that includes taking classes in Paris with Messiaen and playing piano and arranging for Dizzy Gillespie's band. His signature piece has a tautness, edginess, and dash of sardonic wit that are Schifrin at his best. Whether these traits pervade his 1991 Piano Concerto no. 2--a stab at the venerable genre from the pop side--remains to be seen. It's being given its local premiere by Jeffrey Biegel and Symphony of the Shores. Inspired by Art Tatum and other iconoclast pianists, this concerto--whose movements are titled "Blues," "Tango," and "Carnaval"--amounts to a cavalcade of songs and dances of the Americas. Handling its myriad quirky idioms should be natural for Biegel, a young Juilliard-trained pianist with a knack for pop pyrotechnics. (He's recorded the concerto at Schifrin's invitation.) Schifrin's memorable "Theme From Mission: Impossible" (the film version was scored by someone else) is also on this typical though laudable SOS program, in addition to such traditional fare as Mozart's Symphony no. 41, aka Jupiter, and David Diamond's "Music for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." The Diamond piece, composed in 1947, is rarely performed these days, but its clever contrapuntalism and Stravinsky-esque charm argue for more play. Steven Martyn Zike, SOS's guardian of discernment, conducts. Sunday, 7 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 847-869-3133. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christian Steiner.

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