Words cannot fully say, but notes can — notes beautifully transcribed by conductor and musician into music played on the finest of instruments, and music transduced into space and time which circles and surrounds throughout the atmosphere of the concert hall with its final destination: my ears, my heart and my soul. Those lovely sounds written hundreds of years ago by composers such as Saint-Saëns with his Piano Concerto No. 2 and Hector Berlioz, with his Symphonie fantastique.
“Acclaimed French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet makes a rare PSO appearance in Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No.2, a concerto the composer remarked was a reflection of a sea voyage.”
And a voyage it was, especially with the acoustics of Heinz Hall. Watching the hands of Mr. Thibaudet was fascinating, and amazing; his ability took us all on a journey through breezes and storms and smooth sailing beyond what my imagination could conceive, without the inspiration of notes provided by Saint-Saëns.
After intermission, Conductor Marek Janowski took us on another form of journey, this time one that was strictly fashioned from words to a story, a story outlined by the composer Hector Berlioz himself. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra followed the direction and put forth an overwhelmingly robust performance, but as an individual in the audience, I was not required to interpret the score strictly as portrayed. Instead, I listened hoping to feel an abstract flavor, but it was too late, my mind kept running back to the words I’d previously read in the program, and it somehow fit too well, very well, and marvelously well. So I accepted it in turn and went with the flow.
Afterwards, a friend commented amidst the loud applause: “Now that would overpower any stereo system, no matter how big.”
Hello, hurrah, herald garish hooray,
Heed Halloween with Hector Berlioz;
Heard hectic haunting ghoulish dismay,
amidst half notes wholly grandiose
Hell hath no fury, quotations oft do say,
Quell quaff nor stray, elation cannot bray.
Delinquent syncopation inverted contra-play,
rhythm under reason, sanctioned as ballet.