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All-Mozart program has triple treat

The Concerto for Three Pianos is a rarely played

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The Utah Symphony's all-Mozart program Thursday, Aug. 3, includes works that may be unfamiliar to some of the audience — in particular, Concerto for Three Pianos, to be performed by Paul Pollei, Jeffrey Shumway and Massimiliano Frani.

"It's the only one that Mozart wrote for three pianos," Frani told the Deseret News. "It's almost totally unknown. Not many people know about it, and it was a great discovery for us, because it has one of the most beautiful piano parts in the second movement. It's a fabulous piece of music. And there are some parts that are quite tricky, like Mozart can be."

Frani was trained at the Venice Conservatory, graduating magna cum laude. He came to Utah in 1991 as a competitor in the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and stayed to attend Brigham Young University for two years. "It really interested me, the possibility of having an experience, limited in time and length, with an American educational system, especially since pedagogy (teaching methods) in the United States is very well-developed," he said.

Frani is now the associate artistic director of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation and plays with Shumway, Pollei and Robin Hancock in the American Piano Quartet.

Shumway is the chairman for the keyboard area at BYU, a full-time professor. He has performed as a soloist and with the quartet in many countries.

Pollei is an internationally renowned teacher, and he's the founder of and artistic director for the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation. He has sat on several international boards of directors of several cultural organizations, including the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva. He has also published several successful books and is a full-time professor at BYU.

The concert also marks the debut of the Utah Symphony's new associate conductor, Scot O'Neil, who says he's impressed with Utah's interest in piano music.

"I understand there are more pianos per household in the Salt Lake City area than there are in any other major city in the country," O'Neil said. "And I think that says a lot about what people value. So if you're interested in doing educational concerts — which I am — this is a great place to do it. Because people already believe that it's important."

O'Neil said the program will include two symphonies by Mozart. "I joked with my friends that it's the two symphonies that aren't like the other symphonies. We'll be doing symphony No. 32, which is actually more like an eight- or nine-minute Italian overture than an opera.

"And the other is a symphony taken from the first, fifth and seventh movements of the 'Post Horn Serenade.' It's a legit symphony that was used by Mozart, but it was not originally composed as a symphony."

O'Neil will lead the performance in Abravanel Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS or 1-888-451-ARTS, at the ArtTix outlets at Abravanel Hall or the Capitol Theatre, or online at www.arttix.org.

E-mail: rcline@desnews.com