TribLIVE

| News


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

Soloist's technique striking in symphony's season finale

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Saturday, June 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Two popular Russian blockbusters provide the grandiose conclusion this weekend for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's season of BNY Mellon Grand Classics at Heinz Hall.

The concert opened with the more popular of the two pieces, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, which turns up at the symphony every few years. Even great pieces can be overplayed, but there's always room to hear them when played by an artist of the individuality and superb technique of Yuja Wang, who made her third appearance with the orchestra.

The performance began blastissimo from the orchestra, but Wang was not intimidated. Instead, she produced torrents of big chordal sonorities.Before the music turned softer, she showed the impulse for a lyrical perspective in phrasing. Manfred Honeck, music director, provided a good ritardando for one of these moments.

The main section of the first movement is much faster and in completely contrasting character. Wang's pacing was more moderate than expected and not as impish. However, it was the lyrical passages in the first movement that were most problematic interpretatively. The soloist slowed the pace so far that the music dragged, felt static.

The slow movement was cooly beautiful, although soft strings hinted at more emotion, with a wickedly fast middle section which is marked Prestissimo.

The finale was extremely fast, too, and exciting until the pace slowed for the passage preparing for the famous double octave passage, in which the clarity of Wang's technique was striking. Yet it often felt that the orchestra was playing catchup as Wang raced ahead.

The concert concluded with Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, which as the many extra microphones above the stage indicated was being recorded for commercial release.

Honeck's interpretation banned the ambiguity which the composer had to write to survive in Stalin's Soviet Union, an ambiguity which enabled the piece to be called “an artist's reply to just criticism.”

It was a performance of extremes — slow and fast, loud and soft — which was most successful in the third movement.

This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall. Admission is $20 to $93. Details: 412-392-4900.

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Habitat for Humanity to close Edgewood ReStore store, donation center
  2. Allegheny County DA investigates school official’s expense reimbursements
  3. Skeptics voice concern over rapid transit connection between Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland
  4. Woman drove over, damaged fire hose while going to store, Penn Hills official says
  5. Candidates for Allegheny County controller say other person responsible
  6. Pittsburgh police searching for man who robbed bank in Deutschtown
  7. Duquesne man fatally struck by vehicle in McKeesport
  8. Man charged in Rite Aid robbery in Brighton Heights
  9. Pitt joins Giant Eagle, sets goal to put more disabled on payroll
  10. Bradford Woods will celebrate centennial
  11. Plum Borough officials placed on paid administrative leave