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When Music Director Toshi Shimada discusses Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra concerts, he says, "Usually the 'Three Bs' are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, but this time, Barber is in there instead of Bach."
So the concert at the Garde Arts Center will open with Samuel Barber's powerful Symphony No. 1, a concise and powerful piece that packs all of the sonic heft of a 40-minute Romantic epic in a 20-minute package.
Next up, the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello is an oddity in two ways. First off, it's one of the few double concertos in the repertoire, and with the relatively soft-voiced cello featured, it is long on interplay between the soloists, with carefully crafted orchestral voicings to complement the soloists. And second, it is usually played without a guest soloist, using the concertmaster and principal cellist from the orchestra as soloists. But ECSO principal cellist Alvin Wong took a position in Australia over the summer after signing on for the Brahms and will travel halfway around the world, setting, no doubt, a distance record for ECSO guest soloists. Joining Wong will be often-featured ECSO concertmaster Stephan Tieszen.
Tieszen and Wong will host a pre-concert conversation at 7 p.m. for ticket holders.
And the program ends with Beethoven's witty and energetic Symphony No. 2, an often-overlooked musical joyride from the model created by Haydn into Beethoven's coming "heroic" phase.
This should be a good one.
- MILTON MOORE
Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m. Saturday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $28.80-$62, with discounts for seniors, students, and military personnel, $12 student tickets the night of the concert; (860) 443-2876, gardearts.org.