Concert reflects youthful nuances
Two musicians in the early stage of their careers held center stage on Friday night in Heinz Hall playing standard repertoire — American conductor Kazem Abdullah made his Pittsburgh Symphony debut, and Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti made her second appearance with the orchestra.
Abdullah's career moved up several notches in the fall of 2012 when, at 32, he became general music director for the German city of Aachen, where he conducts operas and symphonic concerts.
Johannes Brahms' “Tragic Overture,” which began the concert, showed the young conductor's strengths as well as areas for growth.
Abdullah selected a good basic tempo, one with both breadth and energy and which the orchestra played forcefully. There were some appealing details, such as an uncommon legato in the middle section.
The conductor's balancing of the orchestra focused on the leading line, which admittedly keeps the music's flow clear. Yet it was more than a measure after the lyrical theme entered on the violins that he encouraged lower strings to play and take advantage of Brahms' texture.
Abdullah went for a big sound, but sometimes merely got loud playing. In both the Brahms and the “Mathis der Maler” Symphony by Paul Hindemith, full orchestra balances were variable. There were times when the brass section was much too loud, but many others where its strengths were entirely welcome.
Abdullah did not, however, use the expressive potential of softer music to make for poetic and sonorous atmosphere.
Benedetti offered an individual view of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto after intermission. It was not difficult to hear why her career is thriving in Europe. She has presence, can draw a very appealing sonority from the violin and was exciting in the finale.
More troubling than occasional technical problems was that Benedetti's spell was cast for short duration — a measure or two. Then too, her habit of slowing at the end of phrases became predictable — except for when it was misapplied, as when the music slowed going into a fast tempo.
Abdullah and the orchestra gave Benedetti excellent support. Indeed, it's too bad the very soft orchestra that gave the violinist room to shine wasn't employed by the conductor in the first half of the concert.
This concert will be repeated at 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.
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto works to smooth path for business ties with Cuba
- Bethel Park teacher’s profane tweet raises eyebrows
- U.S. Marshals task force arrests homicide suspect in Monroeville
- $750K earmarked to help Allegheny County ‘Live Well’
- Police seek help finding missing Squirrel Hill man
- State lawmaker proposes changes to Penn State’s board of trustees
- Newsmaker: Doug Ogden
- Allgheny County charter school students give more than $11K to assist homeless children
- Penn Hills votes to sell, lease vacant school space
- Land eyed for trail connectors to expand Harrison Hills Park