"Alpine Symphony" by Colorado Springs Philharmonic

8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave., $12-$59; 520-7469, pikespeakcenter.com


History plays cruel tricks on creative types. In classical music, flip-flops in future fortunes are almost routine.

Over a century removed from their "battle" for supremacy, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler have been caught up in this vortex: The former's orchestral tone poems were all the rage as the 20th century loomed, while the latter's symphonies mostly annoyed the audiences of the day. Today, Mahler performances are received with great expectation and reverence while Strauss' efforts have lost much of their sheen.

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic's season-concluding performances this weekend of Strauss' "An Alpine Symphony" from 1915 should go a long way toward restoring their luster for local music lovers.

"Tone poems were the first intent for Strauss to explain things during a very short period of his life," explained philharmonic music director Josep Caball?Domenech. "When you see 'Domestic Symphony,' 'Alpine Symphony' or 'Ein Heldenleben' you have to imagine you are conducting one of his (mature) operas - 'Der Rosenkavalier', Die Frau ohne Schatten' - because that's what these pieces are about."

There is no doubt that the composer's musical depiction of a daylong ascent on a challenging mountain peak will be the most sonically sensational event of the year. The 76 contracted philharmonic players will be augmented to 95 musicians filling the Pikes Peak Center stage. "It's a tour-de-force for any orchestra," said Caball?Domenech.

The concert opens with one of the repertoire's most popular and enduring works, featuring a soloist who is probably the region's most beloved guest artist: Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto" with pianist William Wolfram.



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