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Robert Spano won’t play piano for his Emory lecture-recital tonight

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Tonight is the opening public event of Robert Spano’s three-year Distinguished Artist in Residence appointment at Emory University, which we wrote about here. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s music director was booked to teach, lecture and perform. (The course, Metaphysics and Music, is described here.) We just learned that Spano will still deliver tonight’s 7 p.m. lecture but, as a pianist, will not play Mozart sonatas with ASO violinist Justin Bruns. Emory faculty member Will Ransom will instead be at the keyboard.

Update 9 p.m. In the Schwartz Center, Spano explained that he developed tendonitis in the summer of 2009, conducting Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at the Seattle Opera, and it flared up again as he was preparing for these Emory concerts. He then spent a first few minutes touching lightly on some grand concepts, such as the connection between one “classical” era — the ancient Greeks and Romans — and another — the music of late-18th-century Vienna — and how the two might be related.

He then cued pianist Ransom and violinist Bruns, who plays with an exceptionally fluid and tonally dense sound, like the purest olive oil, to perform brief excerpts from the three Mozart major-key sonatas on the program: in B-flat (K. 454), in E-flat (K. 481) and in A (K. 526). The “lecture” lasted about 30 minutes, after which Ransom and Bruns performed the music as a recital.

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