Pianist Andre-Michael Schub and conductor Jerzy Semkow will join the Utah Symphony in a concert of Russian music to be presented on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28, at Abravanel Hall.

The symphony will collaborate with Schub in a performance of Rachmaninoff's well-loved Piano Concerto No. 2 and will also perform Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.Schub has enjoyed a prominent career since his 1974 recital debut at New York's Alice Tully Hall. Winner of the 1974 Naumberg International Piano Competition, the 1977 Avery Fisher Recital Award and Grand Prize in the 1981 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Schub has appeared with many of the world's most prestigious orchestras. He has performed in Utah several times and in a telephone interview from his home in New York, he said he always enjoys coming to Salt Lake City.

"Playing with the Utah Symphony is always a highlight for me. It's such a fine orchestra, and of course it's a very good hall. Another reason I like coming to Salt Lake is that I am a runner, and Deer Creek Canyon is a wonderful place to run."

Schub feels that Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto deserves its high-profile standing in the concerto repertoire. "Rachmaninoff was a giant among musicians and a very great pianist," he said. Schub takes a classical approach to the piece: "I like to play this work for its nobility and passion and its very tragic element - and it contains some of the greatest tunes ever written. Of course it's very hard, but Rachmaninoff wrote for the piano so well that it is very gratifying to play."

The opportunity to perform with Jerzy Semkow at the podium is another reason for Schub to anticipate the upcoming concerts with pleasure. Schub says he has "played with him a number of times, and it has always been most memorable. He is a great musician and a major conductor. In fact, the time I performed Beethoven's Third Piano concerto with him is an occasion I remember as one of the best musical experiences I've ever had."

Semkow, who was born in Poland and now lives in Paris, has served as music director of the St. Louis Symphony and as principal conductor of the Royal Danish Opera and Royal Danish Orchestra. His discography includes the first complete version of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," which was honored with several international rewards and a Grammy nomination.

With the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition scheduled for this summer in Salt Lake City, Schub, a veteran of international competitions, had some interesting thoughts. "One of the great things about cities that have a festival like this is that everyone's become a `pianophile.' It's a great forum for young pianists to be heard. Also, since there are not many piano recitals these days, contests provide a chance to hear the solo repertoire for the instrument."

Schub related a memory from his days as a contestant. "When I competed in the Naumberg I had just graduated from Curtis Institute. In the first round I had a memory slip while playing a Schumann Humoreske. I made up several measures and got through, but I was sure it was all over for me. I was ready to start searching the want ads! But I advanced to the next level and ended up winning it. I guess that lends a certain perspective."

Because careers in music can be so difficult and tenuous, Schub maintains that "you shouldn't try to do it unless you almost can't breathe without playing. I feel very fortunate that what I love to do pays my rent. I don't really look at it as a job because I enjoy it so much. And I'm really looking forward to next week."

The Utah Symphony presents an All-Russian Masterworks Concert featuring pianist Andre-Michel Schub and conductor Jerzy Semkow on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-28, at 8 p.m. in Abravanel Hall. For tickets call 533-6683 or visit the Utah Symphony box office at 123 W. Temple. These concerts are sponsored by the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney Foundation and the Ray, Quinney & Nebeker Foundation.