Flavors of the world treat for PSO fans
By Mark Kanny
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Nothing was routine at Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert, when guest conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier led an exciting program of music by four composers from as many countries.
The featured soloist was Valentina Lisitsa, who made a spectacular debut in 2010 playing Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Manfred Honeck. Her career has blossomed since then, including serious online popularity — 50 million viewers — and major recordings.
Lisitsa is playing Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto this weekend at Heinz Hall, offering an uncommonly personal interpretation. Her first entrance was a striking display of big sonority matching big gesture. Then Lisitsa proceeded to play with rapt introspection, taking listeners on a dreamy exploration of music we might have thought we knew well.
Tortelier and the orchestra were with the soloist no matter how the pace slowed, though at one point the conductor and horn soloist helped keep time in the perspective. The second movement was also full of inward feelings, with broadly sweeping emotion.
The finale was marked most of all by a sense of joyous music making, as well as the necessary combination of big league sonority and fearless virtuosity. Lisitsa received a standing ovation and played two encores.
The concert opened with the local premiere “Siderius” by Osvald Golijov. The Pittsburgh Symphony was one of 35 orchestras that co-commissioned the eight-minute piece. The title is a reference to Galileo Galilei's treatise on astronomy. Tortelier led a fully committed and well-balanced performance.
Tortelier led inspired performances of music about Spain and Italy after intermission, starting with his most-beloved composer Maurice Ravel's “Rapsodie espagnole.” It was incredibly atmospheric, but also precisely delineated.
Edward Elgar's “In the South” is a far less familiar composition, but the elan and warmth Toertelier and the orchestra achieved made its neglect seem an injustice. Elgar isn't as light on his feet as Ravel, nor as heavy as Richard Strauss, with whom he shared a love of rich, luxurious textures.
English hornist Harold Smoliar was an outstanding soloist in the Ravel, while Randolph Kelly played the viola solo in the Elgar with a restrained fervor that felt utterly idiomatic.
This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 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.
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- Man shot by Pennsylvania state police at Pittsburgh International Airport was key witness in Massachusetts murder trial
- Pa. child abuse statutes faulted as too narrow
- Result hazy as historic-building vote nears
- Hill District nonprofit’s finances are taking another dive
- Companies are rethinking their holiday parties with different kinds of venues
- Illness briefly sidelines mayor, but he’s back in the game by late week
- Natural history museum in the red
- Fans of former conservative radio hosts Quinn, Tennent support toy drive
- Baldwin-Whitehall board hits ‘magical line of dissatisfaction’
- Schmotzer says he got things done in Baldwin-Whitehall job