This concert features two popular songs by two popular figures in Russian and Czech music. This level of mainstream acclaim has also given rise to the works’ contrasting reception. Nyikolaj Rubinstein refused to premiere Tchaikovsky’s piano concertos, because of what he deemed an excessive amount of ‘banal’ and ‘unplayable’ parts. But after Hans von Bülow brought them to the audience with great success, Rubsintein quickly tacked them onto his repertoire as well. Critics often cite the exaggerated influence of Liszt and the resulting lack of originality in the piece. To this day it’s unclear whether the composition is an overeager illusion, or a timeless masterpiece. Dvořák’s final symphony, the only one written in the US, outdid all of the composer’s earlier works and became the cornerstone of 20th-century music, and even film soundtracks. But did the Czech’s greatest composer really achieve greatness with American music? Or is the “New World” a reference, not to space, but to time, making the symphony a Czech piece after all? Everyone can answer these questions for themselves, most effectively of course from their seats in the audience.