PSO, conductor in top form for trio of compositions
Conductor Leonard Slatkin and the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were in top form Friday night for a program consisting of three well-contrasted compositions.
Most interesting was Mason Bates' Violin Concerto, a world premiere commissioned by the soloist Anne Akiko Meyers and the symphony.
Bates, 34, is the symphony's composer of the year, and simultaneously a composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony. The success of his Violin Concerto is therefore fresh evidence that he is one of today's most promising composers.
The new piece's three movements each have titles: “Archeopteryx” (believed to be the link between dinosaur and bird), “Lakebed Memories” and “The Rise of the Birds.”
The outer movements are high-energy excursions, driven by the composer's gifts for inventive rhythms, lyrical inspiration and a combination of moment-to-moment persuasiveness and feeling of formal satisfaction.
Fortunately, the music received an outstanding performance by Meyers, whose articulation and tone were an unending source of delight. The slower middle movement was full of personality, and not only when the score indicates “coy, “gentle” or “seductive.” Slatkin, the principal guest conductor, provided the sure and sympathetic hands guiding the orchestra with the soloist. It was a thoroughly persuasive account of the piece, except for the final measure, and was enthusiastically received by the audience. This concerto will be played by many orchestras.
The concert began with a wonderful performance of Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 68 in B flat major. Slatkin led a highly perceptive performance, in which the excellence of the orchestral playing was a real delight.
The first movement was well shaped at a vigorous tempo, with nuanced lines and decisive motifs. The ensemble was a little larger than chamber orchestra, right for the large space of Heinz Hall, but played with transparency.
The slow movement, which was especially well done, begins with a figure in the second violins that may bring the later “Clock” Symphony to mind, and is quickly answered by a loud figure which is more extended than the quick joke of the “Surprise” Symphony. The concert ended with Camille Saint-Saens' spectacular Symphony No. 3, in which the organ part was played by Lawrence Allen.
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 email@example.com.
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.
- Pgh. International leader strives to inject Pittsburgh flavor into airport
- Ramp projects across Western Pennsylvania to start this week
- Groups seek $2.5M for North Side’s historic West Park fountain
- Owner of Penn Hills tombstone business pleads guilty to swindling the bereaved out of $90K
- Falling bricks close 2 Squirrel Hill businesses
- Newsmaker: Janice Cherry
- Fire reported at recycling facility in Braddock
- Brookline 12-year-old crashes mother’s car
- ‘Swing Night’ has feel of Prohibition-era dance hall
- Man shot in Hill District
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of union retirees’ pensions