Columbus Symphony Shines with Guest Conductor Larry Rachleff

The Ohio Theatre, where the Columbus Symphony performed Sergei Rachmaninoff's 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,' with guest conductor Larry Rachleff.(Photo: wallyg)
The Ohio Theatre, where the Columbus Symphony performed Sergei Rachmaninoff's 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,' with guest conductor Larry Rachleff.(Photo: wallyg)

The Columbus Symphony outdid itself this past weekend with sensational performances of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 (“The Year 1905″).

Kirill Gerstein was the piano soloist, and he was a honey. The audience fell in love with him.

The Rachmaninoff glittered and entertained. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was filled with wit and, where appropriate, beauty.

The Shostakovitch! The terrible architecture of this hour long symphony held no terrors for Rachleff or the Columbus Symphony. Even the very pensive opening, which does not immediately grab, was not only pensive but menacing. His control of dynamics was astonishing. From FFFF to PPPP in the blink on a kopek. (Okay, okay.)

Maybe I should have been prepared for Rachleff’s performance. I spent weeks leading up to the concert studying the Shostakovitch carefully. I read up on the revolt of 1905 which inspired the score. And I kept wondering, who is Larry Rachleff?

Where have I been indeed! Larry Rachleff is a great conductor.

Larry Rachleff’s Profile

Larry Rachleff is a professor of conducting and music director of Rice University’s Shepherd School Orchestras in Houston. He is also music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the San Antonio Symphony.

He is a former faculty member of the Oberlin Conservatory where he served as music director of orchestras and conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble; he also served as Conductor of the Opera Theatre at the University of Southern California. In 1988, Rachleff was music director for the American-Soviet Youth orchestra tour.

He has been a guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Utah Symphony and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1993, he was selected as one of four American conductors to lead the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the mentorship of Maestro Pierre Boulez.

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