This past weekend’s performance was a “Beethoven Extravaganza” as noted in the program.
The first composition the orchestra played “Overture to The Consecration of the House, Op. 124” was unfamiliar to me. But, it was nonetheless, a pleasant composition. The beginning strings sounded like tiny raindrops, then turning and developing into a summer downpour. I loved the smooth transitions as the orchestra “whispered” and traded off to each section. One aspect of the performance that I do not think I have ever taken considerate note of was the perfection of the orchestra emulating Maestro Honeck’s every move. They, of course not only emulated his direction, but even his body language. It was really quite eye-catching to observe, as I am usually always transfixed on the violins. This would be the result of my bias opinion being a string player myself.
Now to the Eroica Trio! The all-female trio, Erika Nickrenz, Piano, Susie Park, Violin, and Sara Sant’ Ambrogio, Cello marked their debut with the PSO with this past weekend’s performances. As always, it is exciting to be part of a debut, or premier of anything you deeply love. For me, that would be the art of music. The trio’s presence and dress certainly said, “star quality”. One thing I noticed right away, aside from their [the trio] obvious vivacity and warm presence, was their care to observe the orchestra as they waited after the PSO’s introduction before the cello danced in, followed by the violin and piano. I have never heard Beethoven’s “Concerto in C major for Piano, Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, Op. 65, “Triple Concerto” either, but again, a dazzling composition. The cellist seizes the first main dance-like theme as the pianist, and violinist beautifully blend. Each member of the trio really enjoyed themselves. All playing to the heights of perfection and virtuosity never outshined one another. The trio’s encore – “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla was absolutely, and positively exquisite. They played with incredible attention to detail; therefore, true love for their music shined to every corner of the hall. I daresay I enjoyed the encore better than the “Triple Concerto”. It was amusing to watch the orchestra become the audience at the start of the encore. During the “Triple Concerto” when the orchestra was resting I saw some slightly craned necks to observe the spectacle – the all-female phenomenon, center stage.
Then, closing with another composition, by whom else, but Beethoven, was the Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major Op. 55, “Eroica”. This piece, however, was very familiar to me, and a much-loved symphony of mine. The orchestra played with such crisp quality. By crisp, in no way do I mean harsh or lacking musicality. By “crisp” I mean the clean, classic characteristic. At the end of the movements, all bows in the air, creating a noble effect, let the sound gloriously ring as Heinz Hall unselfishly lends. You can just feel the unfathomable emotions Beethoven has composed in each and every note. A composition is a clear inside to the composer’s circumstances at the conception and flight of the piece. I shall ever be indebted to the brilliant program notes that give such fascinating and enlightening backgrounds. My favorite part of the “Eroica” symphony is the third movement. I was struck by the pianissimo dynamic the PSO achieved with the many musicians. This movement starts out with spiccato bowing [a technique of bowing in which the bow is made to bounce slightly from the string] from the strings that made me think of a frantic whisper, and then develops into a juicy piece of gossip unable to contain Beethoven’s news in his notes. Constantly resuming to the whispers, but then the horns took over and the gossip was most definitely born and off. The interpretation was regal, yet light, riveting, and thrilling. Perhaps this is the wrong term to use in the classical world, but I especially loved the remarkable Principal Cellist, Anne Martindale Williams “head banging” as the ecstatic finale came to execution. Beethoven’s works certainly made an impressive opening and the PSO closed us in an impressive fashion!
The PSO’s impeccable standards for the best musical quality possible are evident in every note of their music.