Brooding Sibelius and showy Rachmaninoff highlight Miami Symphony program
Although the audience stood up and cheered for a performance of a virtuoso piano concerto, the most compelling performance of the Miami Symphony Orchestra’s opening night concert may be have been in the subtler, more richly textured tones of a Sibelius symphony.
The concert Sunday at the Arsht Center opened with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a famously finger-busting work that practically makes the floor shake with its dramatics, performed by the Russian-born pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski. He appeared to have little difficulty with the concerto’s rapid, fistfuls of notes. If he lacked the edge of nervous excitement that can really put this work over, his smooth, fluid playing brought out its romantic colors. In the opening of the first movement, he played effectively under the orchestra’s melodic passages, his effortless virtuosity allowing the piano to be heard without detracting from the themes in the orchestra.
Any pianist who fails to play a few wrong notes in the Rachmaninoff Third is probably playing too carefully, and Soukhovetski hit a few clunkers. But in general he conquered the work’s formidable technical hurdles with apparent ease. The orchestra, conducted by Eduardo Marturet, did a fine job carrying a lot of the melodic weight, with particularly good work by principal horn Hector Rodriguez, whose assertive, rich tone made the most of Rachmaninoff’s melodies. But the climax of the third movement, one of those great Rachmaninoff moments when the melody soars in piano, strings and brass, was blown by an over-assertive horn section that covered up the theme.
As an encore, Soukhovetski performed his own arrangement of a Johann Strauss song, a gently lyric contrast to the Rachmaninoff.
Sibelius’s Symphony No. 7, the composer’s last, is a compact one-movement work that covers a tremendous amount of musical and emotional territory in its short length. Under Marturet’s baton and with precise, richly textured playing by the orchestra, the symphony was a compelling musical journey from the ambiguous, shadowy opening to its hopeful conclusion.
In the first section, Marturet led the orchestra through the dark harmonies of the opening through a crescendo to a great, major-key statement of affirmation. The orchestra played with a high degree of polish, winds and strings glinting in the inky chords of the work’s middle section. Brass delivered a weighted, gleaming performance in a series of rising chords performed over a running figure in the strings. Marturet guided the orchestra through a glowing performance of the chords with which it ends.
The program closed with the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály’s Dances of Galanta, a showy work based on melodies from northern Hungary. Alternately meditative, manic and wistful in the stereotypical Hungarian manner, the work requires virtuoso playing from the orchestra, and the Miami players delivery a fiery, evocative performance. Clarinetist Nuno Antunes brought a rounded, buttery tone to his solos, playing with an improvisatory freedom. Violins executed rapid runs with dash and style. Tunes bounced from instrument to instrument through the work, and Marturet gave the musicians the interpretive room to make the most of its freewheeling melodies.
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Mon Oct 22, 2012
at 11:52 am