The Kamloops Symphony's 2012-2013 season opener is called Brilliant Beethoven for a reason.
For one, Saturday night's performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Concerto gives classical music buffs the opportunity to hear celebrated Canadian pianist Stephane Lemelin work his magic.
Then there's the famed concerto — a heroic and powerful piece that's as absorbing as it is moving, and a perfect showcase for Lemelin's talents with the grand piano.
Beethoven wrote the piece in 1809 during Napoleon's attack on Vienna. Although an initial supporter and admirer of Napoleon, the composer didn't approve of the military leader's assault on his city.
As a result, the composition is majestic and heroic, which is likely representative of Beethoven's feelings toward Vienna's defenders.
Those majestic qualities are brought to brilliant life by Lemelin and the symphony, who blend together flawlessly and create a beautiful wall of sound.
The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sagebrush Theatre.
This was the first concerto Beethoven wrote without the intention of performing it himself. As a result, he scripted all the cadenzas instead of leaving them open to improvisation.
At preview earlier this week, Lemelin handled his solos with such skill as to make it sound like he's was creating the notes as he went along. He sat poised above his piano, often motionless except for his fingers, which flew across the keys.
When he wasn't playing, Lemelin became so caught up in the music that he moved his arms as if conducting the symphony alongside Bruce Dunn.
Given that Lemelin has been playing the piano since he was nine and is a sought-after soloist and chamber music partner, his skill at the piano comes as no surprise.
Like Lemelin, the rest of the KSO is up to the task. The tempos are brisk but don't feel rushed and the complex, slow movements are handled with equal care.
I always judge a piece of music by how carried away I get by it. There are moments during the KSO performance when I almost forgot I was in a theatre listening to an orchestra. I was taken somewhere else and only came back to the Sagebrush intermittently to applaud.
This is a performance no classical music fan will want to miss. I highly recommend checking it out.
Tickets are available at Kamloops Live! Box Office, at the door, or by phoning 250-374-5483.