Spanish conductor evokes superlative Pittsburgh Symphony concert
By Mark Kanny
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The concerto style filled Friday night's Pittsburgh Symphony concert led by Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, culminating in Bela Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.
The Spanish conductor devoted the first half to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, beginning with the Serenade No. 6, “Serenata Nortturno.” It is full of Mozartean charm in the march first movement, the Minuet and Trio that follow and the Rondo conclusion.
Mozart drew on the baroque tradition one would find in a concerto grosso to separate a small group of soloists from the rest of the string section — and for extra spice added a rhythmical timpani part. Violinists Noah Bendix-Balgley and Jennifer Ross, violist Randolph Kelly and bassist Jeffrey Turner played with delicious personality. Bendix-Balgley was especially playful, with Ross admirably assertive.
Fruhbeck de Burgos was both elegant and decisive, a superlative Mozartean.
Piano soloist Shai Wosner was fortunate to have so delightfully shaped an orchestral opening in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 15. Fruhbeck de Burgos set a good lively tempi, which gave an infectious lift to the opening woodwind idea. The answer from the violins set up a conversational tone that carried throughout the concerto.
But if Wosner was lucky, his entrance showed the audience at Heinz Hall was lucky, too.
He plays with lively and wise musicality and achieved a very clean sound on the Steinway piano.
Wosner has commanding solo presence but accompanies uncommonly well, too. In the slow movement he gave arresting contours to a swirling accompaniment figure, balancing perfectly when he accompanied the strings, had the melody in his right hand in chords, and was accompanying the winds in the tune while the strings played pizzicato.
Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra had similar strengths to performances this conductor led in 2005 at Heinz Hall of Igor Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring.” It was unfailingly well focused emotionally, brought fresh details to the ear, and packed a tremendous wallop. The tempi that were slower than expected brought their own rewards.
The piece showcases the orchestra, not only the usual principal players, and was played superbly throughout. One could only wish for a larger string section.
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 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.
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends
- Homicide charge added in Derry death
- Greensburg Salem raising funds for fitness equipment
- Murrysville police will get raises in 5-year pact
- Pittsburgh man charged with threat to witness
- Mt. Pleasant board to vote on contract with Volz
- Tentative plea deal with Westmoreland drivers reached in turnpike toll fraud
- State marker in Latrobe to honor Mr. Rogers
- Seismic testing concerns Greensburg resident
- Commissioning of USS Somerset honors United Airlines Flight 93 heroes