The RPO's Philharmonics series begins the new year this week with some ballet without dancing, some opera without singing, and some Beethoven. Popular guest conductor Fabien Gabel — the music director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra — is joined by Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen, making his Rochester debut with Beethoven's First Piano Concerto (the composer's "Egmont" Overture starts the program). The ballet is Francis Poulenc's animal allegory "Les Animaux Modèles." This unusually programmed concert winds up with a suite from Prokofiev's mega-opera "War and Peace," a sort of appetizer for the four-hour original. Befitting their composers, the Poulenc and Prokofiev works are colorful, melodic, and personable – and brand-new to the RPO's repertoire. A good way to start the musical new year.
The RPO performs Thursday, January 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, January 18 at 8 p.m., at Eastman Theatre's Kodak Hall, 26 Gibbs Street. Pre-concert chat one hour before concert. $30-$115. 454-2100. rpo.org; fabiengabel.com.