As a Christmas present, my son Jon gave us tickets to last night's Minnesota Orchestra concert of Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich. He knows that Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 (the "Rach 3") is a favorite of mine. Jerry asks me, "If you like this piece so much, why don't you learn to play it?" HA! The Rach 3 is one of the most demanding piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire, way beyond my talents and ambitions.
Did you see the 1996 movie Shine? It's based on the true story of pianist David Helfgott, abused as a boy by his father into a concert pianist career, and it was the Rach 3, due to his father's pressure to master it and the difficulty of the piece itself, that drove him to a mental breakdown and years in an institution. It's a good story.
Anyway -- the Minnesota Orchestra, led this time by Andrew Litton, and especially the piano soloist Jon Kimura Parker did a masterful job, with no apparent nervous breakdowns. We loved it. We also enjoyed the Shostakovich 12th Symphony (the least performed of his 15 symphonies), but on an emotional level Shostakovich, with his more calculated efficiency, can't compare with the romantic excitement of Rachmaninoff.
Thanks, Jon! Great gift!