Hot Tickets: Orchestration, two by two

Published November 3, 2005

Stefan Sanderling's idea to match each of Beethoven's nine symphonies with similarly numbered works has resulted in some offbeat programming for the Florida Orchestra. A case in point: Bartok's Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion, on the same program with the Beethoven Second Symphony and Brahms' Serenade No. 2, music director Sanderling conducting. The Bartok is better known as the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, premiered in 1938, but the composer rewrote it for fuller instrumentation three years later, and that is what the orchestra will play. In either version, it's a seminal work for percussionists.

Turkish twin sisters Ferhan and Ferzan Onder, above, will be at the pianos, and orchestra members John Shaw and John Bannon will play timpani, xylophone, cymbals, bass drum, triangle, tam-tam and other percussion. There will be two performances: 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall and 7:30 p.m. Monday at Morsani Hall of Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. $15.50-$50.50. 813 286-2403 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286; www.floridaorchestra.org

- JOHN FLEMING, Times performing arts critic

Still can't get enough

Like dozens of '80s-born bands forced to wait decades for critical praise, the boys of Depeche Mode were victims of being smart dudes during a fashionably clueless decade. After all, it's hard to attribute artistic weight to a monotonously delivered lyric such as "I'm taking a ride with my best friend" when the singer looks like a bored runway model with too much eyeliner. The Brit band's fans were sartorially puzzling as well, gloomy teens on the outs with the In Crowd seeking refuge in the band's chilly electro-pop.

Twenty years - and a few good haircuts - later, Depeche Mode is now being judged on its music alone. And would you look at this: The band's synthed-out hits, including People Are People, Enjoy the Silence and Never Let Me Down Again, are now considered complex portraits of teen isolation and emotional fragility. (Plus they're wicked fun to dance to.) The press has even welcomed the band's new album, Playing the Angel, with sincere applause. Of course, the new stuff, including hot first single Precious, sounds exactly like the old stuff. It's just that now songwriter Martin Gore and singer Dave Gahan look more like bored bankers.

Depeche Mode performs with the Bravery at 8 tonight, St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $47.75-$73.25. (813) 287-8844, (727) 898-2100 or (813) 301-2500.

- SEAN DALY, Times pop music critic

Florimezzo: Expect the unexpected

Florimezzo has its first concert of the season Friday, with a typically eclectic mix of music. There's Claude Bolling's popular Jazz Suite, a crossover hit before crossover was a concept, with Judith Alstadter, shown here, at the piano along with flutes and drums. Works by two Tampa Bay area composers - Hilton Jones, a longtime professor at the University of South Florida, and teenager Bruce Blowers - are on the agenda, and Blowers' piano quintet is a premiere. Also to be played: a Bach fugue for clavinova ensemble, a saxophone quartet by Sammy Nestico and Gounod's Petite Symphony. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg. $10-$15. 727 822-3590; www.florimezzo.org

- JOHN FLEMING, Times performing arts critic

A royal Legend, a charismatic rapper

A few years ago, before he became the King of Hip-Hop (and a thorn in George W.'s side), Kanye West was the opening act for R&B stud Usher. 'Ye might have been an in-demand producer with a hot record of his own (2004's The College Dropout), but his stage design was seriously lacking. It was basically just him and a thin, handsome keyboard player whose upcoming debut album West was producing. But hoo boy, did those guys kill. The young sidekick's name? John Legend. The album? 2004's multiplatinum Get Lifted.

Legend and Alicia Keys, who recently toured together on a phenomenal double bill - and who have both benefited from West's tutelage - are the future king and queen of R&B, soul-kissed talents who understand the rules of hip-hop but also take time to respect their elders (Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles). A class-act cutie with a dazzling voice, Legend is a charmer. Don't miss him.

Rapper David Banner also has old-school blood coursing through his veins. Surly, angry, touch-me-and-I'll-pummel-you blood. A charismatic performer with a jagged chip on his shoulder, the Mississippi talent blends the socially minded politics of Public Enemy with the shotgun rage of N.W.A.

Representing the South, he's a full-throttle force to be reckoned with (and, I learned meeting him on the "white carpet" at this year's MTV Awards, a really nice dude, too). Banner will headline the Last Damn Show, a not-for-the-squeamish rapfest at Tropicana Field that will also feature the oft-troubled Slick Rick, still disturbing after all these years.

The Last Damn Show, featuring David Banner, Slick Rick, Young Jeezy, Chris Brown, T-Pain, Pretty Ricky and more, kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. $19.87-$35. (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.

John Legend performs 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. $42.50-$49.50. (813) 274-8981.

- SEAN DALY, Times pop music critic

Double dose of country

Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely, Guy Clark: These guys would make a heck of a high-noon posse, wouldn't they? The Magnificent Four, their spurs jingle-jangling down a dusty street, their Stetsons pulled low, their weathered fingers fluttering over their revolvers. I'd like to see them line up, side by side, against Tim McGraw and his beady-eyed crossover-country mob. Old School vs. New School. Ugly vs. Pretty. I know who I'd be rootin' for.

Tonight's four-for-the-price-of-one gig at Ruth Eckerd Hall is a can't-misser. Lovett & Co. will be side by side, all on one stage, guitars at the ready, slaying foes with wicked wordplay and heart-strong songs. The back-and-forth banter should be worth the price of admission alone. Oh, and could someone please request Lovett's Fiona? Thanks.

If you like your country a little less dusty, a little more polished, bestselling big shot Alan Jackson gallops into town on Friday night, bringing with him - uh-oh, here comes the gush - Sara Evans, who just might be the best female vocalist in Nashville. She has the ability to take so-so material (see new album Real Fine Place) and make it shine to the top of the charts with a flutter of her peerless pipes. Ask nicely, and maybe she'll do her cover of Bruce Hornsby's Every Little Kiss.

Lyle Lovett croons with Joe Ely, John Hiatt and Guy Clark at 8 tonight at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $38-$45. (727) 791-7400. Alan Jackson performs with Sara Evans and the Wrights at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ford Amphitheatre, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $31.50-$66.50. (813) 740-2446. - SEAN DALY, Times pop music critic