Review: PSO sparkles under conductor Gianandrea Noseda
From a contemporary virtuoso at the height of his powers to a neglected masterpiece by a composer at the peak of his achievements, Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony concert conducted by Gianandrea Noseda was a compelling experience.
The star power of violinist Joshua Bell provided an exciting first half at Heinz Hall. Bell, who is a multi-Grammy winner, played Edouard Lalo's “Symphonie espagnole,” a five-movement charmer written for 19th century Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarsate. The Pittsburgh Symphony's first performance in 1907 featured famed violinist Fritz Kreisler.
The soloist and orchestra gave a powerful performance of the piece, with emphatic loud orchestral passages.
Bell's personality and vibrant technique were never in danger of being overshadowed. He drew beautiful tone from his Stradivarius violin once owned by Bronislaw Hubermann. From perfect octaves to left hand pizzicati (plucked notes), Bell gave a memorable demonstration of great violin playng.
His approach to the sometimes omitted third movement, the Intermezzo, was beautifully defined with scrupulously even bowing to set out the theme.
All that was missing from the Lalo was a lighter touch and the charm that's possible when there is less pressure.
After intermission Noseda conducted Franz Liszt's “A Faust Symphony,” inspired by Friedrich Goethe's extremely lengthy play. Liszt's piece is in three movements, each a character portrait of Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles.
Liszt's Faust Symphony was extremely influential, anticipating compositional characteristics most obviously of Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg.
Noseda conducted the original version of the piece, a purely instrumental version written before Liszt added a short section at the end of the last movement for tenor, chorus, organ which quotes from the play.
The advantage of Liszt's original treatment of Goethe's “Faust” is that unlike Hector Berlioz's “The Damnation of Faust,” Robert Schumann's “Scenes from Goethe's ‘Faust' ” and Charles Gounod's opera “Faust,” Liszt makes his points through music unlimited by words. He took advantage of the freedom to set the moods of Faust's never satisfied character, explore the allure of feminine lyricism and present sharply maligning wit.
Noseda led a deeply insightful interpretation which was played with complete devotion by the orchestra.
The Pittsburgh Symphony last played “A Faust Symphony” in May 1975.
This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $25.75 to $105.75. Details: 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.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.
- Pittsburgh Symphony performance gives new meaning to ‘comedy classic(al)’
- James Taylor coming to Consol on Nov. 29
- DVD reviews: ‘The Giver,’ ‘The Expendables 3’ and ‘What If’
- North Hills native survives another week on ‘The Voice’
- The Who bringing ‘final’ tour to Consol Energy Center
- Foo Fighters tour coming Aug. 25 to First Niagara Pavilion
- Bluegrass jam sessions bring out all types of musicians, fans
- Monheit brings the magic of Judy Garland to Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
- ‘Music for the Spirit’ concerts among PSO director Honeck’s season favorites