The Rite of Dance

‘The Rite of Spring’ is the name of the third piece we heard at Heinz Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra this last weekend. Yet I coin the phrase “The Rite of Dance,” because the first two pieces were rather related to different forms of dance. Indeed, Maestro Yan Pascal Tortelier moved his body with much dance-like motion while conducting the two pieces before intermission. Swaying back and forth and a full spin as a conductor leading the orchestra is not often seen on the podium, and was a welcome addition which made me smile.

The first piece by Edú Lobo: Suite Popular Brasileira was very much dance-like. This was composed four years ago and was very pleasing to the ear.

Next was the Harp Concerto by Ginastera.  In the pre-concert talk, we found out that this made use of rhythm and folk tunes. Specifically it was called a “Malambo Dance Rhythm” from Argentina, sort of a “Cowboy Tap Dance,” the South American style of cowboy. Male dancers would challenge each other.

Gretchen Van Hoesen was fantastic on the harp. Her performance was amazing in that I never expected the range and agility she was able to muster, almost making it look seamless in her execution, yet brilliant in the timing and sounds produced despite the difficulty with some of the solo parts.

After intermission came the Rite of Spring. You’ve probably seen it with as the segment with the Dinosaurs in Disney’s Fantasia, yet the sound is nothing compared to the actual concert experience at Heinz Hall. I was at the back of the hall and it blew me away.

 



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