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Watts brings piano power to ASO 

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Andre Watts, the internationally acclaimed pianist, will perform Serge Rachmaninoff’s “Second Piano Concerto” with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26, at Robinson Center Music Hall.

Showtimes for the “Masterworks” Series performances are 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $16 to $46. Call the ASO box office at 666-1761.

The Symphony will also perform Carl Nielsen’s “Symphony No. 5, Op. 50,” which Nielsen described as a “battle between good and evil, chaos and order,” and where he pitted the snare drum’s constant beat against the orchestra.

The Rachmaninoff piece is said to define “romantic” music, with its recognizable theme that became a popular song, “Full Moon and Empty Arms.” Rachmaninoff played the concerto’s solo many times and recorded it twice. It is his most frequently performed work, a staple of every major concert pianist.

Watts was chosen at age 16 by Leonard Bernstein to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in its Young People’s Concerts broadcast nationwide by CBS-TV. A mere two weeks later, Bernstein asked Watts to sub for the New York Philharmonic’s regular pianist, Glenn Gould, in a performance, and nearly 40 years later, he remains one of music’s most celebrated performers.

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