Ludovic Morlot

Funny thing about the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: It’s one of the most famously assertive and arresting gestures in the repertory, yet it’s completely harmonically and rhythmically ambiguous—you can’t tell from those first few bars what key or meter the movement’s going to continue in. French composer Henri Dutilleux relishes such mystery in the opening of his 1970 cello concerto Tout un monde lointain—a brush on the snare drum, nothing more, like the hushed drawing-back of a veil. Behind that veil, in the half-hourish work, lie enraptured, floating cello soliloquies backed by pastel wisps from the orchestra, which become concentrated in the dashing final movement into firework-like gushes of color. Then there are the no-nonsense brass honks of Verdi’s La forza del destino overture, telling you to shut the hell up, the opera’s starting. (I’m making the piece sound subtler than it actually is.) Ludovic Morlot conducts all three works on this weekend’s Seattle Symphony concerts, with cellist Xavier Phillips (whose performance of the Dutilleux with a Swiss orchestra can be found on YouTube). GAVIN BORCHERT

Thu., April 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., April 24, 8 p.m.; Sun., April 25, 2 p.m., 2010

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