She was more like anything I’ve ever dreamed of and she was no dream. She waxed elusive hidden in plain sight wearing an exquisite red evening gown with trailing tails which flowed behind her as she entered the majestic stage, bowing and seating herself before the grand piano. She was Valentina Lisitsa, and she was here to play Edvard Grieg’s piano concerto. Then she began and time seemed to stand still, yet minutes passed and the beautiful music progressed faster than I would like, for I wanted it to last forever.
Lively passages quickly give way to passionate vibes, as unyielding concentration poured heart and soul into vigorous sequences of splendor. Then came a smile as she gently leaned forward as if contemplating the next measure for measure. Fingers sprightly danced over the keyboard coyly flirting with oboe and cellos, and again the PSO repeats the refrain. Hands now seemed to attack the keyboard for only a quick few notes, then softly silhouette a sanguine solo sequence.
Fast forward to the end, and my friend exclaims: ‘outrageous’ meaning it was so magnificent as to go beyond mere description. I agree. Time has stolen itself back again, as the concerto is now over as the audience applauds, and I again have been robbed of the beautiful music from my ears. Yet I’ll return to hear again.
After intermission Yan Pascal Tortelier spoke of ‘Post-cards,’ a term he used for the kind of music to be played, in this case the two compositions were set around the Iberian peninsula adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. First he discussed ‘In the South’ by Elgar. I like the aspect he described as ‘borrowing time’ or the use of Tempo rubato (Italian for: stolen time). The passage accelerates then has to give back at the end and by slowing down. Next he described the scenery along the coast of Italy when discussing Ravel’s ‘Rapsodie espagnole’. At one point he mentioned the famous English horns of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra which would be heard in this piece. Then he finished his talk by indicating that it was wonderful to be back in Pittsburgh to be conducting this great orchestra.