Saturday, March 31, 2012

Slatkin Leads PSO in Eclectic Performance of A Cinderella Suite


Photo:  Donald Dietz/Detroit Symphony Orchestra


The clouds were gathering for a forecasted downpour Friday evening as we made our way to Heinz Hall for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s eclectic performance of three distinctive works.  But the gathering storm had nothing on the tumult that was about to entrance us at this unique performance.

Guest conductor Leonard Slatkin took the stage with composer Steven Stucky to introduce “Son et Lumiere” (‘Sound and Light’).  This unique work, written in 1989, blended seemingly discordant elements into a cohesive whole.  Interestingly, in only nine minutes, the music spanned multiple twists and turns.  At one point, I was reminded of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”.  At another, the blend of melodies turned much more harmonious.  In the composer’s own words, “Throughout its brief nine minutes, therefore, the piece is built almost exclusively of short, busy ostinato figures – my attempt, I suppose, to achieve the rhythmic vitality of minimalism, but without giving in to the over-simple harmonic language that sometimes comes with it.”

With a brief interlude to reset the stage and introduce the magnificent Steinway piano, the orchestra regrouped for the performance of Concerto No. 5 in F major for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 103 “Egyptian”, composed by Camille Saint-Saens in 1896.  Stephen Hough delivered a spirited rendition of the work, mastering the intricate notes.  For his virtuosity in delivering the essence of the piece, Mr. Hough was favored with a standing ovation from the enthusiastic and loyal audience.  

After the brief intermission, we were delighted with the beautiful music of Prokofiev’s Suite from Cinderella.  The opulence of the setting transported us to the Ball where we became willing voyeurs – envisioning the Prince and Cinderella waltzing in the confines of the magnificent Heinz Hall with its glittering chandeliers and gilt carvings. 

The denouement of ‘Midnight’, with its ticking clock and crescendo marking each hour, transported the audience to the fateful moment when Cinderella flees from the ball, leaving behind the evocative glass slipper.  The charm of the story is represented in the delicate notes of the string section as the Prince searches for Cinderella.  The final set, ‘Amoroso’ leaves the audience breathing a collective, romantic sigh. 

As Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin demonstrated his incredible mastery of the baton.  His energy and enthusiasm for the compositions clearly came through as he led the PSO on this journey of three distinctly different yet surprisingly cohesive works. 

The PSO is one of the many jewels in the crown of Pittsburgh’s classical heritage and cultural future.  We were astounded yet again with the plethora of art and culture that is there for the taking in the reborn Cultural District and the great riches that Pittsburgh has to offer residents and visitors alike.   Conductor Slatkin and A Cinderella Suite perform through Sunday April 1st as part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics.

Posted on behalf of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates.  Joyce Kane is the owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Administrative support company, providing virtual office support, personal and executive assistance, creative design services and light bookkeeping.  Cybertary works with businesses and busy individuals to help them work 'on' their business rather than 'in' their business.

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