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Traveling the world through music

October 14, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present the first MasterWorks concert of its 23rd season at The Maryland Theatre this weekend, traveling musically to a distant land.

"Passage to Russia" is a concert of music by Russian composers. There are favorites - Sergei Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 - pieces that will be recognized, said Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze.

Also on the program is the not-so-familiar musical tone poem "Kikimora" by Anatol Liadov.

Vassily Primakov will be in town to perform the Rachmaninoff, the work with which he made his New York concerto debut at Lincoln Center last May.

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"He's very dynamic," Schulze said of the award-winning Russia-born pianist who turns 25 today.

Playing the concerto for the MSO audience will be a present for himself.

"I love playing this piece," he said.

Primakov said he was reluctant to play Russian music when he was younger. He preferred Beethoven, Schubert, Bach, Haydn. He came to Russian music later, after a former teacher suggested he enter a Russian youth piano competition in 1996.

"That's when I really explored Russian music," he said.

And there is so much to explore. Primakov said he tries to go beyond the standard repertoire, for something new and fresh. He's discovering Alexander Glazunov.

Primakov was exposed to a lot of music as a young child.

"Other kids played with toys," he said. "I played with LPs."

He started playing piano at 8, finally convincing his pianist mother to begin to teach him.

A 17-year-old Primakov came to New York by himself in 1997 to study at The Juilliard School.

"It was scary because I spoke no English," he said.

He received a bachelor's degree in 2001 and completed his master's last spring.

"New York is an amazing place," Primakov said. It's inspiring to see great talent - in any form, he said.

"I really love jazz," he said and called Queen Latifah's new CD "really beautiful."

Primakov is matter-of-fact about having committed to memory the music he plays. Initially, it took two and a half weeks to memorize the Rachmaninoff concerto.

But even though it's all in his head, Primakov said he still finds something new every time he plays it.

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