TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Concert reflects youthful nuances

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

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 mkanny@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. McKees Rocks teen set for preliminary hearing on homicide, weapons charges
  2. Carrick residents, businesses join police for ‘Virtual Block Watch’
  3. Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
  4. Mexico native sentenced to 10 years in prison for supplying cocaine to Pittsburgh-area dealers
  5. Derry boy recovering at home after high-profile intestinal transplant
  6. SWAT standoff on Pittsburgh’s North Side ends peacefully
  7. Reporter seeks male students headed to Chatham
  8. School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
  9. Woman crashes car at Pittsburgh federal building after high-speed chase
  10. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  11. Fugitive arrested at Plum motel on drug, gun charges