Thu., Feb. 17, 7 p.m., Fri., Feb. 18, 8 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 19, 8 p.m. 2011
Let’s hope percussionist Christopher Lamb has some good tendonitis insurance. He’ll need it when he joins the Nashville Symphony Orchestra to perform American composer Joseph Schwantner’s fiendishly difficult Percussion Concerto. The piece, composed in 1994 for the 150th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic, is classical music’s equivalent of a sonic boom. The score calls on the soloist to perform a bevy of instruments, including a bowed vibraphone and water gong, both of which produce otherworldly sounds. The finale, moreover, boasts a freak-out rocking drum solo that’s guaranteed to take no prisoners. That said, music director Giancarlo Guerrero won’t let Lamb steal all the limelight, because he’s reserved the evening’s most ostentatiously virtuosic music for himself. Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” composed at the outset of the First World War, portrays not the celestial bodies but rather the mythological namesakes of the various planets. Consequently, each movement is a wonderful character study. “Mars,” the bringer of war, is delightfully martial. “Neptune,” the mystic, always makes a big impression with its offstage female chorus. Guerrero will open the concert with the overture to Mozart’s 1782 masterpiece “The Abduction From the Seraglio.” Note that this will not be a period-instrument performance, so please leave your powdered wigs at home.