“Jazz, well I guess some like it hot, personally I prefer classical music” — Tony Curtis ‘Some Like it Hot’
Who says classical music isn’t ‘hot’? Tonight we found out otherwise, with the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Valentina Lisitsa poured her heart out on the piano, it was spectacular to watch and to hear. The strings of the PSO opened with sizzling sounds that exploded with scintillating reverb bringing that ‘hot’ lush sound I’m often longing for when I attend a Pittsburgh Symphony. And the whole of the first movement seemed to whiz by with such alacrity and aplomb, I was awe-struck. But it was the second movement that literally brought goose bumps. The romanticism is evident in this movement – I’ve listened to it so many times, and I never grow tired. The final movement has some of that famous sounds that many have heard before – again a very romantic theme, and the piano and the orchestra share turns repeating the theme over and over, leading up to a stunning and climatic finale. The hands on the piano were amazing, and the audience leapt to a standing ovation. I’m so glad to have had this opportunity to witness the joy of this concerto, performed by an artist, Valentina Lisitsa, who’s smile was radiant and beaming with effuse expressions, especially at intermission when she signed autographs. I shook her hand, congratulated her on a great job on my favorite concerto of all time — and now, I have a favorite performance of this beautiful concerto.
I do not know the name of the selection that Lisitsa played as an encore, but it was soft, delicate and stirring. The concerto was sandwiched between two pieces this evening that couldn’t have been more different. The concert began with “Rocking the Cradle,” in which composer Richard Danielpour gave a very descriptive introduction of what it is all about. Myself, I prefer to hear the music in a vacuum, not knowing the programmatic context, so that I can form my own impressions. Because of that, I had a difficult time appreciating the music until the second movement. After intermission came Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” I first heard a long time ago when I watched Disney’s Fantasia, and of course that context was all that I conjured, lava and dinosaurs, yet I was smiling all the while.
mixed with current subtle sounds I hear,