What the heck is a boyar, anyway, and what were they doing marching into Bucharest to the tune of Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen’s Entry March of the Boyars? Wikipedia defines a boyar as “a member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Moscovian, Kievan Rus’ian, Wallachian and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes (in Bulgaria, tsars), from the tenth century through the 17th century.”
They were knights and large landowners, apparently, divided into three levels of importance, of whom only the top level were entitled to wear full beards and very tall furry hats. Based on the pictures included in the Wikipedia story, they also either were immensely heavy (as appropriate to their great wealth) or favored extremely thick robes and cloaks (as appropriate to the cold climate of northeastern Europe).
But as Halvorsen imagined the boyars, neither girth nor drapery got in the way of their sprightly and vigorous arrival at the Romanian capital. His popular overture is the first of three works to be performed at Rhinebeck High School this Saturday by the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra, as the second installment of its “Exotic Pairings” concert series, titled “Oslo and Prague.” The program also includes glimpses of the Americas through a Czech lens, via Antonin Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), and of Scandinavia via Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16.
The latter piece will be performed by Francesco Attesti, an Italian pianist of international acclaim. Among his generation of musicians, he is considered one of the finest interpreters of the Romantic and early-20th-century piano repertoire. Now 37, Attesti gave his first concert at the age of 11, and at 16 attended the Summer Masterclass at the Mozarteum of Salzburg at the invitation of Sergio Perticaroli, who became his teacher. He went on to study with Luigi Tanganelli at the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, and with Jacques Rouvier and Hector Moreno. Attesti began his recording career in 1998, often collaborating with such contemporary composers as Silvia Bianchera Bettinelli, Biagio Putignano and Raoul De Smet.
Among the national and international piano competitions that he has won are the Ibla Grand Prize International, FIDAPA Competition, Città di Racconigi, Migliori Diplomati d’Italia, Rovere d’Oro and Città di Cesenatico. The Swiss Ursula Stroher Stiftung sponsorship for talented young people was conferred on Attesti from 2003 to 2005.
He performed the Italian premiere of Chiavi in Mano by Pulitzer Prizewinning composer Yehudi Wyner with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague. He also plays regularly in internationally prestigious concert halls, including the Philharmonia Hall of Saint Petersburg, Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow, Mozarteum of Salzburg, Philharmonie Essen, International Piano Festival of Warsaw, Sarajevo Winter Festival, Cambridge University, Leicester University, Columbia University, Denver University and the Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Milan. (And if the press photos are to be believed, the pianist is also a bit of a heartthrob.)
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 26. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. You can order them, and also find out about special three-pack and ten-pack discounts, by visiting www.ndsorchestra.org/buy-tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door, if the show doesn’t sell out in advance.
“Oslo & Prague” concert, Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra with Francesco Attesti, Saturday, January 26, 7:30 p.m., $20/$15/$5, Rhinebeck High School Auditorium, 45 North Park Avenue, Rhinebeck; (845) 635-0877, www.ndsorchestra.org/experience-ndso/2012-2013-season/#jan26 target=_self.