Symphony soars through 'Plato's Night'
A great performer will make a work's flaws less important than its strengths, a skill guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda demonstrated at Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert at Heinz Hall.
Noseda introduced Victor De Sabata's “La Notte di Platon” (Plato's Night) by speaking of the composer's stature among Italians as a god among conductors and his importance to the Pittsburgh Symphony as a guest conductor, especially between music directors Fritz Reiner and William Steinberg. He also rightly spoke of a conductor's influence extending beyond his own tenure, or even beyond the time of musicians who played for him.
He might well have added that in Pittsburgh De Sabata was additionally influential for one of the orchestra's second violinists who played under him — Lorin Maazel, who was music director here from 1988-96.
In any case, ultimately it was the strength of De Sabata's composition that mattered most Friday night. The piece was inspired by a dinner party Greek philosopher Plato hosted, but De Sabata offered a different musical than Leonard Bernstein did in his “Serenade after Plato's Symposium.” While Bernstein's piece is structured as a series of speeches, De Sabata presents the argumentative give-and-take more characteristic of Plato's other dialogues.
Noseda led a very persuasive performance, evocative of a Mediterranean evening, presenting the fervor of minds in contention, and conveying a sense of spiritual exaltation.
Benjamin Hochman was the soloist for Maurice Ravel's Concerto for Piano Left Hand, written for an Austrian pianist who lost his right arm in World War I. The concerto is a piece of fantastic imagination and identification, quite beyond the ingenuity of the piano writing.
Hochman was effective in many passages and is obviously musical, but wasn't on top of some of the music. Clarity of voicing, including downward arpeggios that disappeared rather than registering, was a problem.
The concert concluded with “Aus Italien” by Richard Strauss. Noseda made the best possible case for the work, but there was no disguising the fact that Strauss' use of the tune “Funicli-Funicula” had all the ebullience of bratwurst in sauerkraut.
This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $20 to $35. 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.
- Online donors help Hempfield teen whose wallet was stolen
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- Westmoreland County Blind Association building brimming with activity
- Charges dismissed against former Westmoreland jail guard accused of sex with inmate
- Penn Township man pleads guilty to assaulting 3 police officers
- Man killed after car leaves Route 819, veers through East Huntington parking lot
- Greensburg Salem to consider additional cost-cutting measures
- Lawyers for convicted killer Smyrnes want info about death row
- 2 from Westmoreland County charged in child porn investigation
- Cerilli’s primary success in Westmoreland attributed to busy campaign
- Greensburg, Youngwood pools opening for the season May 30