Previn and the Pittsburgh, Recapitulated

I’ve always wanted to attend a concert with André Previn conducting the PSO, and this past weekend was my perfect opportunity. Mr Previn walks on stage assisted by a staff member, he turns, smiles and bows graciously before the audience, then is seated on a chair on the conductor’s podium. He starts the music instantly, not hesitating for the applause to subside, as the marvelous symphony number 102 of Franz Joseph Haydn begins. His arms are long and reaching, and his hands expressive as he conducts with flair.

Next comes a world premier of Previn’s own composition, his own Triple Concerto for Trumpet, Horn and Tuba featuring George Vosburgh, trumpet, William Caballero, horn and Craig Knox, tuba. It begins with a jaunt, or journey, as if music from an action movie score. The second movement begins with deep tones, soft and slow, then builds. At times I hear what I perceive as a bit of dissonance almost verging on vertigo. The third movement starts with descending notes of the strings, then the brass takes the notes back down the scale. All throughout the trumpet, horn and tuba are well balanced with the orchestra, but I am most partial to the tuba, something not often heard in a role of soloist. Again I detect dissonance, but then beautiful rich sounds of the strings take over again.

Finally the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4, “Italian”. I’m almost at a loss for words, the beauty of this performance is simply too difficult to describe. I want to hear it again. André Previn bows to the audience to lots of applause, and he applauds the PSO for their performance.

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