On this day in classical music: Sergei Prokofiev’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” was given its premiere by the Chicago Symphony in 1921. Frederick Stock conducted and the composer appeared as soloist. Prokofiev began sketching the concerto in 1913 but didn’t complete it until 1921. The work didn’t catch on immediately but soon became a repertory standard. Prokofiev often performed this work in concert and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard. It remains today the most popular of his five piano concertos. Listen to Martha Argerich perform the finale of the “Piano Concerto No. 3.” Mstislav Rostropovich conducts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT5AmJiJdsA
On this day in the musical theatre: “Wildcat” opened on Broadway in 1960. Featuring a book by N. Richard Nash and a score by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, “Wildcat” told the story of Wildcat Jackson, a tough woman determined to strike oil on a ten acre plot in Centavo City. In her only Broadway musical, Lucille Ball starred as the title character, with Keith Andes as Joe Dynamite. During the show’s 171-performance run, the 48-year old Ball missed many performances due to illness. Producers valiantly tried to keep the show running during her absence but requests for refunds resulted in the musical’s short run. Coleman’s score produced a big hit with “Hey, Look Me Over.” Listen to Ball and Paula Stewart perform “Hey, Look Me Over” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaYjVHEB5bs
Musical musings: The rich get richer, and a redhaired millionaires named Lucille Ball figures to make another bundle with a new musical, “Wildcat,” in which she is the star and solo backer. While it falls woefully short of expectations, it still exhibits enough of Miss Ball, blares forth moderately rousing music, and provides sufficient hoopla and boffola to satisfy the millions who love Lucy. It should have been so much better, I think, but what I think will matter little. It is an increasing bore to be faced once more with a musical with no book, yet this one by N. Richard Nash is a new champion in the nothing sweepstakes. – John McClain in the New York Journal American.