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<<  -- 5 --  Kelly Ferjutz    A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

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From the very first four note theme, it was obvious that this was going to be a very special performance, and that it was! In spite of the long reverberation time, the music was bright and clear with marvelous attention to dynamics throughout. The basses were especially muscular sounding, yet at other times, the entire orchestra played so softly it was hard to believe that all of them were really playing! That kind of very hushed playing is extremely difficult to achieve without sounding wobbly, and at this level, is one mark of an excellent ensemble.

This was also one of the fastest Beethoven Fifths I've ever heard! But not so fast that any details were lost. Oh, no! I heard things that I'd never heard before, which is always a big thrill for me. For instance, there was a neat little trill from the piccolo near the ending that I don't recall from any prior performance, and there it was just hanging above the rest of the orchestra in splendid and beautiful fashion.

Mr Frühbeck de Burgos was (at least for this engagement) a very dramatic conductor, with big sweeping gestures, yet everyone seemed to understand his wishes very clearly. The principal winds were excellent in their multiple exposed solos throughout the evening. Ms DeAlmeida imbued her legato oboe solo with extra poignancy. And the horns! As a once-upon-a-time horn player, I'm always extra sensitive to what they're doing up there, and in my notes I wrote: 'two horns sound like a battalion' and they did, as they played with bells about half-way up. I was really tickled to read in the blog on the PSO site that indeed the conductor had instructed the horns to play in an 'epic' fashion. You can read the rest of the report here. (Thanks, Rob!)

PSO Horns. Photo: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
PSO Horns. Photo: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Did I mention that this was a very fast rendition of this symphony? One little contributing factor was that each movement went almost directly (without even taking a breath in between) into the next one. Overall, it was just awesome. I enjoyed every minute of these concerts, and would not hesitate to hear either of these ensembles again. If you've never heard the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in their own Heinz Hall, and you'd like a new experience, I would strongly encourage you to go visit their splendid home and enjoy the equally splendid music-making.

Their web-site is www.pittsburghsymphony.org and you'll find a complete schedule posted there, as well as a wide variety of other information. Pittsburgh has a very active visitor's site, too: www.visitpittsburgh.com There are all sorts of Getaway Packages to help you enjoy the city and the various arts or other happenings, plus hotel accommodations. There is gorgeous architecture and three rivers, plus more bridges than any other city in the world. I believe they also have a football team, but we won't go there at this time! I suspect you'll enjoy the city as much as I did, regardless of your choice of activity.

Copyright © 7 November 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA

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