More Connections: Noseda and Hochman Chat – Doug Bauman

Last weekend the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performed three different selections, composed in different places in Europe and Russia, and they performed each piece “with versatility according to three different styles, three differing ways” as was described by Conductor Noseda in the post concert chat. The chat was interesting, because I was able to glean some insight into the process behind the making of the music. Note that all quotes are paraphrased as I was writing my notes a quickly as I could.
PSO’s Assistant Conductor Thomas Hong began with a lively chat on stage with soloist Benjamin Hochman.
They talked of his training at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Mannes College of Music as a student of Claude Frank and Richard Goode.
Hochman indicated that what he now performs is mostly repertoire that he has performed before.
Question: Is there a difference between American Orchestras and those of Europe?
Hochman: Mostly in the timing and nuance — Every orchestra is a little bit different in their own sound, in the end each orchestra is always a new experience.
Soon guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda joined them in the discussion.
Noseda: Tonight the music was remarkable, breathtaking – all across the evening.
In Europe we have special orchestras, Spain and France, Germany, Italy and others.
But I like American orchestras for their versatility. The Pittsburgh Symphony played this evening according to different styles – three differing ways. On a scale I would rate American orchestras as highly proficient. However, sometimes that’s it – good – perhaps they don’t want to be ‘touched’. Here with the PSO, they are more, they are participating in playing the music. The result is love, for instance when Benjamin Hochman inspired us without losing depth.
Noseda: The Tchaikovsky was amazing. My connection with Russian music stems from the time I spent in St. Petersburg. Italians and Russians can be very lazy, until pointed and we decide to work – then you cannot stop us (audience laughs). The key to my connection is with the time I lived in the house with other artists there – a ballerina, a concert master and singers. Living in the same house, I was able to learn the Russian way of life, and I came close to the poetry of the music. There are connections also between the pieces, in a way. Mozart wrote Le Nozze Di Figaro. Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings was in Italian style (Tchaikovsky intended the first movement to be an imitation of Mozart’s style).
Question: Do you take a human approach to conducting?
Noseda: Yes, to get deeply inside the music to get the right sound. I’m like a live metronome. Every gesture propagates to many sounds. If I jump the sounds stays the same, perhaps that’s just ego (laughter).
I try to inspire the orchestra for a deep slavic sound (Tchaikovsky).
I wish the sound to be full of consonants, not a language of ghosts (here he pronounces many syllables filled with just vowels to demonstrate what he does not want, to laughter). In the Art, articulation is a perfect sense of phrasing.
Question: What process do you go through when you first meet prior to rehearsal?
Hochman: We get together before we meet the orchestra. I play for Maestro Noseda, it’s sort of like a blind date where you don’t know what you are getting into. But much is soon revealed and it felt natural. We discovered a natural feel for the music.
Noseda: We met for 25 minutes and somehow it seemed like hours. I have much respect for the artist, for instance Benjamin Hochman has played this music much more times than I, so he is much more familiar with the piano concerto. We form a dialog. The artist can improvise, and thus the sharing of emotions.

During the actual performance the audience’s energy becomes connected with the performance, and becomes part of the performance. During the third slow movement this was true. Bernstein called this the biggest moment of love. During that time, there are 2 seconds of our hearts beating at the same time – expanding to 5 then 10 and then 30 seconds. If this love could be held the world would be a much better place.
After the chat they remained and Maestro Noseda warmly and cordially jumped down into the audience and talked with some patrons, a few of which were clearly his friends. One of whom I believe was Lidia Bastianich, and the following morning she and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda appeared on the channel 13, what a great way to become familiar to a Pittsburgh audience. Clearly the warm and charming persona of this conductor brought a joy to my heart.
WQED-TV 13 Cooking With Lidia & Chris VI
A pledge special featuring Chef Lidia Bastianich and “QED Cooks” host Chris Fennimore, preparing recipes from Bastianich’s book “Lidia Cooks for the Heart of Italy.” Also in the kitchen: maestro Gianandrea Noseda, the principal conductor of Italy’s Teatro Regio di Torino.
Saturday, March 13 — 10:00am

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Mar 15