Congratulations to Randolph Kelly, viola, in Hector Berlioz: Harold in Italy — his solo was fabulous. I perceived that his playing sometimes became lost in a whirlwind of passion, a torrent of tempest — the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra all around gave tumultuous beauty to the composition, yet did not tear Mr. Kelly’s passion to tatters.
Somehow this is the vision I perceive when I think of a soloist accompanied with an orchestra. There was beauty all through the first three movements. His playing was not as pronounced as many of the violin soloists we are used to, yet it was distinct enough in those 3 movements to reach my ears; the temperance and smoothness of the viola was simply pleasing. It was only the 4th and final movement that acquired a robust torrent of bravado, which on its own stood out like a symphonic tempest, yet somehow I felt that the soloist was overshadowed. Perhaps it was by design, a particular penchant of Hector Berlioz.
At the completion of this half, there was much applause for Mr. Kelly and guest conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, who did a great job introducing the piece beforehand. At one point Mr Kelly walked over to congratulation his own viola section to much applause — during the 3rd movement their playing was pronounced. In the program notes it indicated that these were the “wandering minstrels of the third movement’s Serenade.”