Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debuts some new faces
By Mark Kanny
Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
More than fresh faces will be on display when two musicians make their Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debuts at concerts over the final weekend of January.
The debut of German violinist Christian Tetzlaff is particularly overdue.
Now 46, Tetzlaff actively pursues the full range of repertoire, not only from old to new, but also from concerti to chamber music, including string quartets and recitals. His programming shows keen musical intelligence, finding new perspectives with unusual juxtapositions of repertoire.
Michael Francis will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony, with Christian Tetzlaff as violin soloist, at concerts Friday to Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown.
Francis, a young conductor who took up the baton while a member of the bass section of the London Symphony Orchestra, will open with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor. After Tetzlaff plays Anton Dvorak's Violin Concerto, the concert will conclude with two colorful Slavic tone poems — “Sarka” from “Ma Vlast” (My Country) by Bedrich Smetana and “Taras Bulba” by Leos Janacek.
Tetzlaff comes to Pittsburgh at the end of a busy month in Europe during which he's performed Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto, a mixed recital, Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Brahms' three Violin Sonatas.
The violinist says he is the personal factor plotted against something big in nature in the Dvorak Concerto and that the piece begins with “a quite serious attitude, not devastatingly dark, in a proud, serious mood.” The concerto's form is not unusual, with a slow-moving second movement he characterizes as a beautifully sung aria and a joyous finale.
“It's all about the language of the music, (Dvorak's) language and orchestration,” says Tetzlaff. “The problematic part of the piece is that the violin writing is quite unusual, a bit more difficult than it sounds. We prefer it, usually, the other way around. But that doesn't mean it's not a great piece.”
Tetzlaff's wide-ranging repertoire developed naturally, fed over time by curiosity.
“I sampled one composer after another when I was 12 or 13, when I was playing all the time in orchestras — (Anton) Bruckner and other things for young people, which are overwhelming, direct and easy to grasp in an emotional way,” he says. “Later on, I got a strong liking for Mozart and (Franz) Schubert. At the same time, I was playing quite a lot of more contemporary music, such as starting with (Bela) Bartok and (Alban) Berg especially.”
Tetzlaff makes it a point to perform a world premiere every year. He likes having connections with composers.
Yet, he notes that, statistically, his core repertoire is mainstream: Ludwig Beethoven leads with 250 performances followed by Johannes Brahms with 180 to 190.
“I like to play and then the best pieces appeal to me more and more. I've never, never had the feeling that playing them so often takes away,” he says. “I get more confident and more in love with them when I play them.”
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.