Baroque music enriches Bach style in symphony concert
By Mark Kanny
Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The American conductor and harpsichordist brought an exciting combination of individuality with decisive yet graceful style to Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Brandenburg Concertos.
Sorrell is the founding music director of Cleveland's period instruments orchestra, Apollo's Fire, with which she has enriched many a season of the Pittsburgh Renaissance and Baroque Society back to the 1990s.
Friday's performance at Heinz Hall surmounted all of the potential problems of playing baroque music with a modern orchestra in a big hall. Sorrell used a small ensemble, with all the musicians standing except for cellos and harpsichord.
From the start of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, it was apparent that Bach's music would reach the ear with virtually perfect balance and transparency, that the incredible richness of Bach's textures would provide many delights at any given moment for the listeners' ears.
Sorrell's sense of pacing was energetic and free of metronomic rigidity. Her use of agogic accents was part of broader gestures, which however strong were never heavy handed. They were expressive gestures.
She was at her freest in an improvisatory performance of the long cadenza in the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, even coming to a stop as she created the illusion that the music was finding its way at that moment.
There was particular delight to be taken from the playing of the orchestra musicians, starting with oboist Cynthia DeAlmeida in the first movement of the First Concerto. DeAlmeida's phrasing had wonderful nuance of articulation and dynamics, and her tone was gorgeous and pointed. Hornists William Caballero and Robert Lauver were terrific in the second trio. Incidentally, the concerto's third movement was played after the Menuetto.
Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley played with wonderful musicality throughout the concert, and surpassing virtuosity in the Fourth Brandenburg. George Vosburgh was outstanding in the high-flying trumpet part in the Second Concerto, in which he was a soloist along with flutist Lorna McGhee, DeAlmeida and Bendix-Balgley.
Each concerto has a different orchestration, which provides variety and creates a pause for stagehands between pieces. Sorrell provided delightful commentary during those breaks. This is a concert not to be missed.
This 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.pittsurghsymphony.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.
- Peduto takes down Pittsburgh’s Redd Up crew
- At next turn, pothole repair
- Washington County judge: Evidence against him illegally obtained
- Newsmaker: Christine Jordanoff
- Upper St. Clair woman’s death at Drexel probed as possible meningitis
- Photo gallery: Swing for a Cure
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Fox Chapel Area superintendent seeks rapport with students
- FirstEnergy last to get smart meter OK
- Redistricting spurs faceoff for Democratic state Reps. Molchany, Readshaw
- Job cuts at AGH part of ‘strategic’ process