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Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony dreams big

Orion Weiss

In a feat that almost sounds as if they were trying to set a record, Leningrad audience members rewarded the 1937 debut of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony with applause that lasted more than 30 minutes.

Maestro Lawrence Loh, who will lead the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic through the same piece tonight, understands why they were so inspired.

“The ending is so climactic,” he said. “It has a sense of triumph.”

So, how long is the clapping likely to continue in Scranton?

“We can shoot for half an hour,” Loh said with a chuckle. Turning serious, he added, “The other thing that will be a good measuring stick will be the quality of the applause. A minute of sustained and extremely exuberant applause will satisfy me.”

Tonight’s program also includes “The Chairman Dances,” a piece that corresponds to a scene in John Adams’ opera “Nixon in China” when Chairman Mao emerges from a portrait to foxtrot with his wife.

“The premise is somewhat comical, but the musical itself is very creative, meticulous, what we call minimalist music, with repeating rhythms and these incredible grooves by this very famous American composer,” Loh said. “It’s modern and very accessible and very interesting.”

The “Chairman” piece ends with a hissing sound from a snare drum, designed to represent a gramophone.

Guest soloist for the concert is pianist Orion Weiss, who will be showcased in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.”

The rhapsody has powerful points, intimate moments and a sequence in which audience members are likely to exchange glances of recognition, Loh said. Weiss is an ideal artist to play it, he added. “He’s an amazing musician, lots of fun to be around. I know the audience is going to feel that personality when he performs.”

If You GO

What: Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic Concert

When: 8 tonight

Where: Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton

More info: 341-1568

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