Two accomplished pianists (Antonio Palareti and Daniela Ferrati) and a virtuoso percussionist (Ivan Gambini) have flown in from Milan to perform a series of three concerts this weekend (March 11-13) sponsored by Northwest Sinfonietta, the Tacoma-based chamber music ensemble. The musicians call themselves Trio Diaghilev in honor of Sergei Diaghilev, the Russian impressario who championed the music of Ravel and Stravinsky.
Their program, titled "Rites of Spring," is straightforward enough: Ravel's "La Valse," Bernstein's suite from West Side Story, and Stravinksy's "The Rite of Spring." A century after the scandalous premier of "Rite," there's not much surprise left in atonal music, but what's unexpected is the energy and drama that the musicians bring to their performance. Bernstein's familiar jazz rhythms, for example, come alive with Gambini's solo percussion, and the poignant high notes of "There's a Place for Us" have never sounded more heartbreaking than under Palareti's fingertips.
Seattle is being colonized by French musicians, you realize. Christophe Chagnard has been in position for 20 years now as Northwest Sinfonietta's music director. He's Parisian, but should get along fine with the Seattle Symphony's incoming music director, Ludovic Morlot, who was based in Lyon before his appointment in Seattle.
If you go: Northwest Sinfonietta presents Trio Diaghilev in three performances: Friday (March 11) in Seattle, at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall; Saturday (March 12) in Tacoma, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rialto Theater; and Sunday (March 13) in Puyallup, at 2 p.m. at the Pioneer Park Pavilion. Tickets cost $19-$49 and are available by calling Kendal Keyes at 253-383-5344 or online at brownpapertickets.com.