3 eras of music performed by PSO still fresh
The three eras of music performed by conductor Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on Friday night felt extra fresh, perhaps because the romantic 19th century was skipped, or perhaps because the evening's new music was instantly appealing.
Composer of the year Mason Bates joined in the performance of “The B-Sides.” He stood with the percussion section at the rear of the stage to play electronica, which brings the world of club dancing into the concert hall.
The title “The B-Sides” is a reference to the old world of vinyl records and their use by disc jockeys, which Bates was earlier in his career. The five pieces also were inspired, loosely, by Arnold Schoenberg's “Five Pieces for Orchestra.” Those are two very contrasted worlds.
Bates' music is physically invigorating, and not only from the drive of dance rhythms. His melodic ideas avoid the four-square, while his coloristic imagination and skill in orchestration are a delight to the ear.
The remainder of the first half was given to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25, in C major.
Emanuel Ax was the riveting soloist, as he has been so often in Heinz Hall with this composer. His mastery goes far beyond the clarity and tonal appeal of his playing. He makes the music come alive with special freshness, slight changes of pacing and articulation for the sake of a change in the music's character.
Ax played Alfred Brendel's wonderful first movement cadenza. Ornamentation heard in the rest of the concert was by Ax and further satisfied the appetite for variety, new elaboration and humor.
Alas, the orchestra was much less articulate than the soloist and less energetic, too.
Slatkin led a wonderfully perceptive account of a symphony by Mozart's contemporary Joseph Haydn earlier this season. Perhaps he merely overemphasized the contrast with Bates' music.
Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 provided the large-scale conclusion for the evening. Slatkin led a moderately paced but decisive performance, with superb playing by the orchestra.
Ax did not play an encore, but the orchestra did, the fun paraphrase “Carmen's Hoedown” by the conductor's father, Felix Slatkin.
The concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in 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.
- Plum school board berated for pulling back on new school
- 2 boys who received transplants at Children’s Hospital progress to sunnier days
- $11.13M project to close section of Pittsburgh’s Mifflin Road
- Children’s Hospital’s top doctor leaving for Washington University School of Medicine
- Newsmaker: Jeff Pollock
- La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei touts Pittsburgh’s Italian heritage
- Count of Three Rivers Regatta visitors could top 500K despite race ban
- Bookings for August Wilson Center climb, but permanent board yet to be set
- Film shares tale of Pittsburgh man who turned disability into career
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Carnegie man sought after hammer attack, police say