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Double the fun with Russian fantasy for two pianos

Michael Salmirs and Ewa Mackiewicz-Wolfe will team up to perform some lush compositions by Rachmaninoff.

The concert, “Russian Fantasy for Two Pianos,” takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 21, in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall. The event is sponsored by the Music department as part of its 2003-04 concert season.

The duo will perform Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos (Fantasie Tableaux), Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos and Symphonic Dances, Op. 45. Rachmaninoff’s two-piano suites and symphonic dances are among the composer’s major works. The first suite, written when the composer was only 20, is dedicated to Tchaikovsky, and is preceded by quotations from Rachmaninoff’s favorite poets.

The second suite, written years later, culminates in a brilliant and exhilarating Tarantella, illustrating the immense technique that Rachmaninoff possessed as a pianist.

The Symphonic Dances, being his last opus, summarize the composer’s entire life. After several re-writes, it was premiered by Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Horowitz at the composer’s Long Island home. Three movements, titled Noon, Twilight and Midnight, are thought to reflect Rachmaninoff’s essentially pessimistic view of existence. The finale is described as a “brilliantly sinister danse macabre,” which heralded the composer’s death only six months after it was premiered in orchestral form by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in 1941.

Mackiewicz-Wolfe has been affiliated with the Music Department since 1984. She is a frequent performer at international festivals, is the winner of the International Competition of Renaissance and Baroque Music, and of international music competitions in Poland, Hungary and Germany.

Salmirs, a founding member and artistic director of the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble, is a well-known recitalist and chamber musician who performs extensively throughout the region. Currently a faculty member at BU and Cornell University, he also maintains a private piano studio in Ithaca.

Tickets are $14 for the general public; $12 for faculty/staff and seniors and $6 for students, and are available by visiting the Anderson Center Box Office from noon to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, by calling 777-ARTS, online at or at the door. For information about other events in the concert season, visit us on the web.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08