Honeck, soloists master Tell's 'Lone Ranger' set
Many orchestral concerts feature a guest soloist, but the special appeal of Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony concert was that music director Manfred Honeck and the symphony had the program to themselves.
Honeck began with “The William Tell Overture” by Gioachcino Rossini, ultra popular a couple of generations ago when “The Lone Ranger” show was on television, but actually rarely encountered in the concert hall these days.
Honeck led a very decisive performance which opened with the big cello solo beautifully played by Anne Martindale Williams, with luscious support by her colleagues. The conductor really drove the thunder of the storm, and followed with a pastoral section marked by expressive solos. The concluding gallop was very well paced and full of personality.
Franz Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 93 in D major was a reminder that Honeck's style is modern Viennese, very cognizant of musicological fashion. He contrasted the more elegant if driven three-quarter style in the first movement with the also quick but heavier style in the third movement.
After intermission Honeck conducted Richard Strauss' “Ein Heldenleben” (A Heroic Life) in a performance broadly similar in conception to his recorded concert performance five years ago. It is highly nuanced, ultra-dynamic, with wide variations in tempo. The slow pacing of the section between the violin solo and the beginning of the battle was again very slow.
Wonderful solo playing abounded, including from the three new principal players who have joined the orchestra since the last “Heldenleben.” Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley vivified many different aspects of the personality of the composer's wife, but soloists who have been playing “Heldenleben” at Heinz Hall for years also excelled — including principal horn Willliam Caballero and English horn Harold Smoliar.
The concert also featured the latest incarnation of “concert enhancement,” now videos of members of the orchestra talking about their part and demonstrating it. Principal cellist Williams was terrific talking about “William Tell,” but this gimmick was already getting old before intermission.
It's grotesque to see and hear a recorded video by someone sitting on stage. Is it any surprise they sounded more beautiful live than recorded?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Shaler man charged in death of girl, 6, not prosecuted in repeated alcohol cases
- Would-be Troy Hill carjackers scared off by sirens
- Diminishing number of pilots takes toll on small airports in Western Pa.
- Pa. spends millions on death penalty cases that rarely end in execution
- WQED deserves some of the blame for financial woes, Roddey says
- 17-year-old male killed, 15-year-old female shot in McKeesport
- YMCA cards now good in most of Pennsylvania
- Natural gas company opens Potter County office because of chemical leak from well
- County Executive: Municipal budgets not likely to benefit from Allegheny County vehicle registration fee
- Robinson drive-in on its way out of Allegheny County
- Plum to consult with experts to get past sex abuse scandal