For their March 6 and 7 concert, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra had a full program of music and guest performances.

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The program opened with one of musical director Joann Falletta’s most beloved pieces – “Prelude a Apres-midi d’un Faun” (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) by Claude Debussey. The composition is the musical interpretation of the poem written by Stephane Mallorme.

The poem tells the story of Pan – the half man half goat mythological figure – and his fascination with a wood nymph who scorned his desires. Turned into reeds by the gods in response to the wood nymphs pleas, Pan takes the reeds and fashions them into a flut – the Pan Pipe.

A light and airy tunes, the piece was a nice way to get an afternoon of music started.

In a BPO Classics debut, the Orchestra performed two works by the French composer Florent Schmitt. Up first was the piece originally composed for the saxophone, “Legende for Violin and Orchestra, Op 66” featuring BPO Concert Master Nikki Chooi on violin.

Finishing out the first half of the program was “Oriane et la Prince D’Amour, Op 83”.

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After the intermission, Joanna Falletta, and the BPO return to the stage with guest pianist Konrad Skolarski for a performance of the “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op 18” by Sergey Rachmaninoff.

Only 22 and still at the St. Petersburg Conservatory when he composed his first Piano Concerto, the young Rachmaninoff was devastated by the debut performance when the conductor Glazinov had had too much to drink and botched the performance. The disaster sent Rachmaninoff into a tailspin of depression that left him unable to compose for three years.

After consulting a hypnotist, Rachmaninoff made his triumphant return to composing with his second Piano Concerto.

The famous work is familiar to more than just classical music fans. The work was the inspiration for the popular song “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen.

Fans of the James Bond films would also recognize a few passages in the Concerto in the spymaster’s film scores.

A brilliant pianist, Rachmaninoff also had large hands and composed his pieces using the entire keyboard of 88 keys. This gives any pianist a huge challenge in performing Rachmaninoff’s compositions.

Making his return to the Buffalo to perform with the BPO, Konrad was up to the challenge and performed the Concerto brilliantly. J

After the performance he returned to the stage to give an encore performance.