The MSO’s Russian Easter Treat

The Friday, um, Five goes solo for the holiday.

Too late for April 1, but the stages are pretty quiet this weekend, no foolin’. Area performing arts groups will unload a basketful of openings and concerts next weekend, but for this Easter weekend, there is a single concert event that stands out.

Dewaart_cultureclub_webThe Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg at the Marcus Center

Why? Because the MSO programmers have built a little U.S.-Soviet détente into this concert, which features American and Russian works from the mid-20th century. Samuel Barber’s ominous Essay No. 2, from 1942, represents the American side. Dimitri Shostakovich’s probing first violin concerto was completed in 1948, but not performed until 1955. The great violinist Salerno-Sonnenberg has made it one of her signature pieces, and her appearance here is a real treat. Finally, Edo de Waart (right) brings out the big orchestral guns with Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances,” his final crowd-pleaser of a work and a great testament to his thrilling sense of orchestration.

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Paul Kosidowski is a freelance writer and critic who contributes regularly to Milwaukee Magazine, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio and national arts magazines. He writes weekly reviews and previews for the Culture Club column. He was literary director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater from 1999-2006. In 2007, he was a fellow with the NEA Theater and Musical Theater Criticism Institute at the University of Southern California. His writing has also appeared in American Theatre magazine, Backstage, The Boston Globe, Theatre Topics, and Isthmus (Madison, Wis.). He has taught theater history, arts criticism and magazine writing at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.