Ear Supply: The Wow Technique

Though I’m a firm advocate of the you’ll-eat-your-broccoli-and-you’ll-like-it school of concert programming, I have no objection to fluff, especially at a festive event like a season-opener. And orchestral music doesn’t get any fluffier than the Toccata by Bulgarian composer Pancho Vladigerov: Imagine an MGM musical set on an Eastern Bloc collective farm, packed with rousing dancing-peasant production numbers and boiled down to four almost painfully colorful minutes.

Vladigerov (1899–1978) is the one name on the Seattle Symphony’s Sunday-afternoon gala that might be unfamiliar; conductor Ludovic Morlot has surrounded it with favorite dances by Bartok, Borodin, Brahms, and Dvorak, and will follow it with another splashy dazzler, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3. Lang Lang, probably the world’s most popular pianist these days, is on hand to play it. Fast, flashy, boisterous, clangorous, not exactly probing or profound: These terms can describe both the concerto and Lang himself—or so says conventional wisdom. Hear him for yourself and see if he’s getting a bum rap. Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., 215-4747, seattlesymphony.org. $76 and up. 4 p.m. Sun., Sept. 15.

 
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