Sunday, April 13, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - Magical Inspiration: Review of the PSO’s Bolero and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice March 14th 2014 Performance

Magical Inspiration
Review of the PSO’s Bolero and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice March 14th 2014 Performance
From: Roving Pittsburgher Report and
Written By: Josh Kurnot  |  March 15, 2014

Walking down the aisle to row k, right in the middle of the orchestra, I notice the grand piano on the forefront of the stage. I wonder what celebrity the orchestra would entertain on their stage that night. Little did I know, some of the world’s most powerful fingers were waiting just off stage left. I cannot place the feeling at first while taking my seat, but there is a kind of quiet anticipation lingering in the theater. My only precedence to this performance is the childhood memory of the Disney movie Fantasia. In my ignorant bliss, I sit with my date grinning from ear to ear waiting to reminisce on fond innocent memories from my younger years, but little did I know…

With due respect, the audience graciously welcomes Maestro Leonard Slatkin to the stage. Prodigy to his parents, the founders of the famed Hollywood String Quartet, Slatkin was born to conduct this very show. The show opened with French composer Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is the familiar tune from Disney’s movie Fantasia, and its sounds coming from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s stage are just as whimsical and magical as I remember it as a kid. The simplest theme of the entire show was perfectly and playfully portrayed in this first piece, repetition. The Lucian tale of a sorcerer and his apprentice tell the story of how an apprentice’s eavesdropping on the master’s incantation to turn a common household broom into a drone for filling the water basin from the well leads the novice to an almost certain demise. The repetition in the orchestra starts low and mysterious as the sorcerer’s stern words work in private. It then grows in volume and multiplies seemingly uncontrollably as the apprentice attempts to stop the drone from overflowing the water basin by chopping it in half; only creating yet another. The magnitude of the impending doom on the apprentice is magnificently displayed by the alternating unison of the violin section’s two explicit parts. While the bows of one violin part are thrust into the air, the bows of the other part are pulled swiftly back down the opposite direction creating a magnificent but furious dancing effect atop the heads of the entire violin section. Towards the end of the piece, this effect is sustained for so long that I think it would last forever, leaving no refuge for the poor apprentice. Although I don’t particularly care for all of the antics of Mr. First Violinist, I found quite a bit of entertainment in the fly away hairs of his bow flailing frantically about during this ferocious first piece. And at the end of it, Mr. First Violinist proudly grasped those few retired hairs from his bow and most triumphantly ripped them right out of their roots.

Michel Camilo
Photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The next appearance on stage is Michel Camilo. The audience welcomes him with kindly as he takes his seat on the front of the stage at the keys of the grand piano. As Camilo’s fingers began to strike the first few notes of his Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, “Tenerife”, his Latin heritage and Jazzy style are instantly apparent. Camilo’s inspiration for this piece is Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. In his own words, “My intention was to compose about its great majesty, reflect on the warmth of its people, and portray the vibrant light so full of contrasting texture and color I have always perceived there.” The first movement is inspired by a visit to the island’s volcano and does an excellent job of personifying this wondrous place giving it absolute strength, a mind of its own, and a heart beat. Matching the strength of this volcano is Camilo’s left hand pounding away at the repetitious rhythm that is the heart beat of this beautiful place. The community and warmth of the island’s people is found in the echoing rhythms of the symphony orchestra. As the power of the volcano has a rhythm, so do the people who live who live in its shadow. This appearance marks the debut of Michel Camilo’s performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. At the end of the first act finishing the third movement of “Tenerife” the crowd exploded with applause and cheers, especially from the balcony. So long did we applaud and cheer, not accepting no for an answer, that Camilo had to feel obligated to end his performance with a little extra personal flair. Not only did he flair, but his fingers fumed as Slatkin, the Symphony Orchestra, and entire crowd listened in awe.

Additional Performances:
Saturday, March 15th | 8 PM | Heinz Hall
Sunday, March 16th | 2:30 PM | Heinz Hall

Written By: Josh Kurnot
 Josh Kurnot is a student of engineering at West Virginia University in his senior year. He loves to visit relatives in Pittsburgh and attends as many cultural events as he can. He is an award winning photographer whose photograpy was featured on PositivelyPittsburghTV in a video, Roving Pittsburgher and Mountaineer Cheerleader, Josh Kurnot Tour the Strip.

Posted By: Stephanie Curtice
Good News and Cultural Reporter,,
(c) 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment