Damn, I wish I was in Aspen. I want to hear this concerto.:

"More than 80 percent of all silent movies, for example, including outright masterpieces, have simply disintegrated because of the fragile nature of nitrate film stock.

Hundreds of major dance works, particularly those created before video technology and never properly notated, died along with their choreographers and performers.

In classical music, the story is even uglier. In their horrific bid to cleanse Europe of Jews, the Nazis not only ended the lives of dozens of important composers, but they also disrupted and distorted the history of Austro-Germanic music.

Even though many of these composers built significant bodies of work before their deaths, they and their music were largely forgotten after World War II, and their contributions to 20th century music went unrecognized.

Only in the past decade or so have these wrongs finally begun to be righted in any widespread way. Part of that crucial process was a mini-festival during the final weekend of the Aspen Music Festival, "Forbidden Music: Silenced Voices."

The centerpiece was a rare performance of the Piano Concerto, Op. 25, a work by Viktor Ullmann, a Jewish composer of Austrian descent who died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz in 1944.

Ullmann wrote his concerto in 1939, but it was banned by the Nazis, along with the rest of his music. Fortunately for posterity, he was able to entrust it and other works to a friend, and pianist Konrad Richter and the Brno Philharmonic presented its long-overdue premiere in 1992.

Conductor James Conlon, an ardent champion of these forgotten composers, led the Aspen Chamber Symphony in a suitably intense, full-bore performance of this often tempestuous concerto Friday evening in the Benedict Music Tent.

Although hints of other composers can be heard, Ullmann manages to create a distinctive, slightly fractured, avant-garde sound. A master orchestrator, he plays off the banjo (performed here on electronic synthesizer) and piano, for example, an unexpected yet oddly successful pairing.

The work crashes to life with a big, agitated first movement, with often dense, jabbing syncopations, before giving way to the slow second movement, in which a bucolic calm remains just out of reach amid a slightly uncentered feeling of melancholy. Then, the turbulent energy of the opening charges back in the final two sections.

Ullmann punctuates this work with often pounding piano solos of Lisztian complexity, and they were flawlessly executed in an amazing performance by one of the most technically gifted and expressive young pianists of our time, Christopher Taylor."

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