Pianist counters boisterous open at Pittsburgh Symphony holiday concert
Despite a mishap before the music began, the annual Thankgiving weekend program of Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony generally met, and in some ways exceeded, the standard they have set for this tradition.
The concert Friday night at Heinz Hall began with Franz von Suppe's “Poet and Peasant Overture,” an exuberant and brilliantly scored curtain raiser. The performance features a beautiful opening from the brass section, a lovely cello played by Anne Martindale Williams, and plenty of energy. But in some passages Honeck went too far with pacing that was and orchestral sounds that were coarse and brutal.
Austrian pianist Till Fellner then made an impressive debut playing Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. It is the least showy of Beethoven's piano concerti and therefore made a welcome contrast with the boisterousness of the opening piece.
The clarity and cleanliness of Fellner's pianist was extremely impressive in its own way and served his Apollonian expressive stance. He took his cue from the second movment, in which the orchestra's blunt forcefulness is met and turned by the piano's calm inner voice.
Honeck characterized the orchestral parts' frequently changing moods and personalities with assurance, and without overstatement.
After intermission Honeck and the orchestra turned to music by the Strauss family, beginning with Johann Jr.'s “Waldmeister” Overture. It received one of Honeck's most successful interpretations in this genre, just as the “Roses from the South” Waltzes were unusually well done. Both benefited from idiomatic inflection, a willingnesss to give melodic material the time it needs to blossom and enthusiastic delivery of the music by the orchestra.
The only music not by a Strauss on the second half — apart from a string counterpoint added by Brahms to the return of the waltz played by flutes in “Waldmeister” — was “Carmen Fantasie Brilliante” to music by Georges Bizet. It was played with striking personality and technical brilliance by principal flute Lorna McGhee.
Prior to the concert there was a technical failure in a pre-recorded video introduction to the concert. But then it always seems goofy to see a video of someone who will be on stage in a moment, as the conductor will be, or is already on stage. as musicians who were interviewed.
This concert will be repeated at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $25.75 to $109.75. Details: 412-392-4900 or www.pittburghsymphony.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.
- Kanye, Cyrus and Minaj provide memorable moments at VMAs
- Plum native to be inducted into polka hall of fame
- Photo Gallery: Lake Street Dive play soulful, sold-out show at Mr. Smalls
- Actor Duchovny to sing at Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar
- Tim McGraw keeps on truckin’, no matter the musical obstacles
- A ukulele that rocks? Jake Shimabukuro can show you how
- Neighborhood Week sends Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra out into community