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Saturday night's concert at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall was more than just the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 2018-19 season kickoff, even if it's the last one for departing Music Director Philip Mann.

It was also the public debut for the orchestra's new 9-foot Steinway D piano, which soloist David Fung had the privilege of putting through its paces in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor. And on which the audience had the privilege of hearing a superb performance.

Fung and Mann worked the piece for all of its inherent drama. A brisk tempo brightened the second-movement "Romanza" (familiar, perhaps, as the last Mozart tune in the score of the movie Amadeus), in which Fung also proved he could play a small pianissimo on a big piano.

Fung played the cadenza Ludwig van Beethoven (who was a big fan of this piece) wrote for the first movement; I won't spoil the joke in his third-movement cadenza except to note that fans of Mozart operas are most likely to get it. Fung treated the enraptured audience to an encore, Vladimir Horowitz's arrangement of Moritz Moszkowski's Etincelles. (translates as Sparks from French)

It wasn't the most dramatic piece on the program. A fine performance of the complete 1911 version of Igor Stravinsky's ballet Petrushka occupied the second half, with plenty of scope for wind-player solos, the battery and the pianist (still showing off that new Steinway).

Mann milked pretty much all the the drama out of the curtain raiser, Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but some of the tempos seemed slow and the performance could have used a touch more magic.

Fung, Mann, the Steinway and the orchestra will repeat the program at 3 p.m. today at Robinson, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 666-1761, Extension 100, or online at

Metro on 09/30/2018

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