Thursday, October 3, 2019

Vancouver Symphony and Feltsman open season with exciting Tchaikovsky concerto

Vladimir Feltsman signing CDs during intermission
Vancouver Symphony didn’t open its season with a light-weight overture or a festive fanfare. Instead, it got right down to business with guest artist Vladimir Feltsman, who delivered a scintillating performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. The electrifying concert delighted the near standing-room-only audience at Skyview Concert Hall on Saturday afternoon (September 28), kicking off the orchestra’s 42nd season in grand style.

Generating a bold, bravura sound in the opening statement, Feltsman immediately conveyed the grandeur of Tchaikovsky’s piece. He terrifically expressed its full range of dynamic qualities. The lyrical passages floated effortlessly. His accelerandos were exciting. Fortes could be heard above orchestra, and pianissimos gave listeners the sense of intimacy, especially during the slower cadenzas.

The orchestra, conducted by Music Director Salvador Brotons, supported Feltsman with great sensitivity. The big, sweeping phrases were lush and warm. The brass supplied extra punch, and passages tapered off with finesse as needed. Oboist Fred Korman and flutist Rachel Rencher supplied lovely solos.

Going into the finale, Feltsman didn’t hold back anything, and the orchestra matched him enthusiastically. The final notes were followed with thunderous applause and a standing ovation that brought Feltsman back to the stage several times where he was given a bouquet of flowers.

After intermission, the orchestra played Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, which Brotons, in his introductory remarks to the audience, noted is a “love song from beginning to end.” The hour-long performance was rewarding to hear, with the orchestra creating the lush melodies and delving into the many emotional contrasts and colors of the music. The violins supplied a unified sound, the French horns had many golden moments, the woodwinds contributed with distinction, and brass choir was stirring. Highlights of the performance included fine playing by Karen Strand (English horn), Igor Shakhman (clarinet) Barbara Heilmair (bass violin), and Eva Richey (violin).

Because the Second Symphony seems to ebb and flow at times like ocean waves coming onto the shoreline, it is difficult to create an arc to the piece. Impressively conducting from memory, Brotons urged his forces, but the music got a bit lost on the listeners despite the big finale. Perhaps they were still swimming in the sound of the Tchaikovsky concerto.

1 comment:

KMac said...

This one one of the finest concerts I have every heard. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is one not to be missed or dismissed. They played to a packed house Saturday and almost to capacity on Sunday. Feltsman was incredible!