Symphony artfully combines contrast, interest with Honeck
Real balance in programming classical concerts assures success when its elements are so well contrasted and interestingly performed as they were at Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony concert at Heinz Hall led by music director Manfred Honeck.
The program began with “Mothership” by Mason Bates, the first music of the symphony's composer of the year to be heard this season. He gave a fine spoken introduction, briefly explaining the visual image and the music means he used to achieve it.
The nine-minute composition is a showpiece for orchestra, contrasting fast and slow dance music in the manner of a 19th century's scherzo with two trios. Bates joined the orchestra for the performance, sitting at the rear to play electronica evoking techno music.
“Mothership” is a bold and energetic piece. Its two contrasting sections featured solos with improvisational qualities which were played by concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley and bassist Jeffrey Grubbs. The piece was immediately appealing and whetted the appetite for next week's world premiere of Bates' Violin Concerto.
Complete contrast was provided by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Clarinet Concerto performed in a reconstructed version for basset clarinet.
Principal clarinet Michael Rusinek played it with surpassing fluidity and breathtaking dynamic control. Honeck, who has performed the piece with basset clarinet before, led a thoughtfully shaped performance. The first movement didn't dawdle and was free of romanticism. The sublime slow movement had that distinctive mix of contrasting emotions that makes Mozart's music so touching.
The concert concluded with colorful Russian romanticism in Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. Honeck presented a very individual interpretation of the first movement. He downplayed the balletic quality of the main section of the movement by focusing on touching nuances in the wonderfully supple melodies.
This concert will be repeated at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $20 to $93. Details: 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.