Manfred Honeck and the PSO soon embark on an exciting May tour to China, their first tour together, and only the PSO’s second visit to China, the previous tour being more than 20 years ago, in 1987.
Honeck and the orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Richard Strauss’ tone poem, Death and Transfiguration, among others in China. But before the orchestra sets off on this fascinating journey, they’ll perform those two works this weekend at Heinz Hall for their home audience.
I’m very excited for this weekend’s concert, and I expect something very extraordinary from Honeck. He must have a special connection with those works since he has decided they were the works he wanted to present to the world. I’ve not heard much Strauss, but this concert should be a fine introduction.
I like the selection of Beethoven’s seventh symphony, as it’s an uplifting work that I believe will easily cross cultural boundaries.
Also, I’m sure the pressure of an upcoming tour will drive the PSO musicians to an even higher level of playing than usual.
This weekend also sees Yefim Bronfman’s annual PSO performance. We’re used to him playing the big showpieces, the finger-breaking Prokofiev, so it will be interesting to hear him in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor. Mozart concertos aren’t the most technically demanding works, but they require you to consider millions of tiny details and there’s a very fine gradation of interpretation.
Before heading to China and Taiwan, the PSO will play May 4 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. They’ll be gone for most of May, not returning until June 4-6, when Honeck conducts Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Frank Peter Zimmermann.