MGC Weekend Nine Musings and More – Peter Greer

Michael Rusinek proved himself to be an
exceptional soloist in the performance Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto last
weekend with the Pittsburgh Symphony under the direction of Peter
Oundjian. The challenge for the soloist in this late Mozart piece is to
strike the right balance between secular (operatic) qualities of the
voice line without shortchanging the spiritual qualities of the piece
(especially prevalent in the second movement).  Establishing a rapport
not only with the audience but Yo Yo Ma-style with the
orchestra,  Rusinek’s playing was about as perfect it gets and
generated an enthusiastic audience response at its conclusion. 

Rusinek is but one example of the
outstanding principal players we have in this orchestra. Michael, my
vote for your next concerto with the PSO is Finzi’s neglected
masterpiece. Not
only do I love the piece, but the purity of your playing lends itself
to a realization of Finzi’s melancholic line that would not be overly

concert also marked Oundjian’s second appearance with the Pittsburgh
Symphony. Oundjian
took up the baton several years ago when a physical disability forced
him to cut short his career as lead violin in the Tokyo String Quartet.
now music director of the Toronto Symphony, has the makings of a great
conductor and is showing it by the results he achieved in last week’s
concert. The Beethoven Fourth and the Mahler miniature (the rejected
Blumine movement from his first symphony) were impressive indeed.
and pacings were superb, and I would like to know from my musician
friends if it really helps to have someone on the podium with a
virtuoso string player’s expertise (a la an Oundjian, Zukerman,
Silverstein, or Cárdenes) to get the upper registers of the strings to
shimmer so brilliantly.  After Oundjian’s debut
concert here last season, I remember a string player waxing
enthusiastically that Oundjian’s ear was simply amazing. He
could hear both minute balance and intonation problems that most
conductors missed and, more impressively, could fix them in an instant.


the December Board meeting, Acting Principal Flute, Demarre McGill and
Second Violin, Linda Fischer
performed two short movements from a Suite
composed by Bodin de Boismotier. Following the
performance, McGill confessed, as someone who does not yet consider
himself to be a true insider, what a special joy and privilege it has
been to play with the Pittsburgh Symphony. “It is impossible to take
world-class for granted when you hear playing at this level every week.
Your orchestra is so very special.” It must be unusually stressful to
be an “acting” principal player – I would liken it to being on trial
for murder. Settling
in more with each concert, McGill is playing superbly and with the
confidence of someone who knows he has the right stuff. His solo work
in Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe was
ravishing and more importantly, he is now beginning to assimilate the
orchestra’s translucent Euro-American sound into his playing.


Demarre was not born into a musical family. His
mother, a dance therapist, and father, art teacher turned fire chief,
provided Demarre a secure and nurturing environment within a typical
Chicago middle
class family. Rather, Apollo found the young McGill and imbued his
innate gift for music with a furious work ethic that astounded even his
Chicago music teachers. Moreover,
it was Demarre’s passion for music that inspired Anthony, his younger
brother by four years and now Principal Clarinet of the Metropolitan
Opera Orchestra, to take up that instrument. We
should all be empowered by their accomplishments as they prove the saw
that anything is possible in this country if you are willing to believe
in yourself and work hard enough to realize your dreams!

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