Share This Page

Rich contrasts flow in PSO performance

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 11:00 p.m.

From a mournful opening to an exuberant conclusion touching on the manic, Pittsburgh Symphony music director Manfred Honeck led a concert full of contrasts Friday night in Heinz Hall.

The Austrian conductor led his first performance of Samuel Barber's American classic, the Adagio for Strings, to begin the program. Honeck led a moderately paced performance, one which flowed when it should and had repose in contrast.

Honeck often achieves special nuances of color and accent when working with strings alone. In this case, however, he let inner voices contribute more than he usually allows.

Honeck then turned to music that is unfamiliar to the concert hall and rarely heard at the opera, from Leos Janacek's “Jenufa.” Honeck and Thomas Ille have stitched together a 24-minute suite of appealing music from the opera which, while episodic, gives an extended sampling of this composer's singularly compelling style. The performance itself had much charm, but the loudest passages blared.

The first half concluded with the triumphant debut of Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva playing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. The pianist won first prize in the 2010 Frederyck Chopin Competition in Warsaw and showed fine Mozart style on Friday.

Avdeeva offered a welcome forthrightness in her interpretation. No mincing Mozart for her, yet no want of sensitivity either. The cleanliness and clarity of her right hand far surpassed the articulateness of the symphony, especially the strings, which had their share of fussy dynamics.

While inner voices were downplayed and smoothed over, the light presence of the trumpets in the balance was most welcome.

The concert concluded with a warmly romantic account of Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 8, which Honeck and the symphony performed many times in Pittsburgh and on a European tour in 2009.

Numerous extra microphones were above the orchestra because the Dvorak Eighth was recorded for commercial release. Honeck's performance had urgency, rich expressivity and full-bodied sonorites. The orchestra's excellence included many superb wind and horn solos.

In the finale, Honeck maximized the contrast of the main tempo with the faster one, which created a bipolar emotional landscape.

This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $25.75 to $109.75. 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 mkanny@tribweb.com.

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.