Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Classics: Don't worry about the unusual form of Saint-Saëns's Piano Concerto No. 4 -- just go with it!


With the Fairbanks Symphony, Eduard Zilberkant draws an evocative performance -- note the movement and mystery, the colors and the shape -- of the first part of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2. (The performance concludes here.)

by Ken

As I mentioned when I first wrote about the powerful impression conductor Eduard Zilberkant made in the two concerts he conducted of this year's "Evenings of Piano Concerti" from the New York Concert Artists, the first work that really make me sit up and take notice was the second work on the opening program, Saint-Saëns's Fourth Piano Concerto. It hadn't occurred to me that the piece was likely to flourish with a chamber orchestra with a bare-bones complement of strings in the friendly confines of Manhattan's Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, but I was delighted by the impassioned sweetness of the songful sections and thrilled by the infectious exuberance when the piece reached full cry.

The impression held up through a really grand performance of the Beethoven First Concerto (with NYCA Artistic Director Klara Min), which had me remembering how much I love the piece, and a fine account of the Grieg Concerto (handsomely played by Christoph Declara). Zilberkant's second EPC IV concert -- with overlapping but not identical orchestral personnel from concert to concert -- consisted of three Mozart concertos and our old friend Saint-Saëns's Second Concerto.

I didn't get quite the effervescent enthusiasm of the earlier concert, but the sense of purpose and musical immersion was just as strong. As I've mentioned, I was delighted by the grace as well as lyrical intensity of the performance of Mozart's Concerto No. 12 with Shiran Wang, not at all an easy piece to bring off on this level. (We listened to the whole concerto last week, in "How a "second-tier" Mozart piano concerto can command top-tier attention.") I didn't mention the dazzling performance, with Hee Sung Jang, of one of the composer's most fraught masterpieces, the D minor Concerto (No. 20).

I'm sorry I can't offer you any of the performances I actually heard, but as I noted in Friday night's preview, I do want to devote some attention to the Saint-Saëns Fourth Concerto.



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