Musical prodigies prompted well-deserved standing ovations for their fresh takes on the art of presenting symphonies and concertos Tuesday night.
The Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, composed of players all under the age of 27, sandwiched symphonies around 27-year-old pianist Lang Lang’s piano concerto with technique bordering perfection.
The orchestra opened with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25. Prokofiev’s neo-classical piece, which it played with incredible dynamics and precision, had the melodic temperament of classical music with the frolicking nature of the 20th century. Most impressive from the youngsters were the unity and clarity of trills in passages close to a whisper. It was speedy and fresh, quick and light — the perfect appetizer.
Concert ReviewSchleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra
Arts verdict: 4.5 of 5 stars
Then the main course arrived, as the piano rose from the orchestra pit and Lang entered from stage right.
The young man who performed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics presented a passionate yet casual Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26 to a sold out Memorial Hall, capacity 1,434.
Prokofiev’s piece had passages that were grand, like the emergence of the “Phantom of the Opera,” whimsical like the fall of “Alice in Wonderland” and suspenseful like the cruising and battling “Star Wars” ships.
The winds would play a dynamic phrase, and Lang would echo it even richer and sweeter.
The soloist showed off at several points by leaning back on his left hand and letting his right run up and down the keys.
He and the orchestra’s distinguished guest conductor, Christoph Eschenbach, were visually and audibly connected in the performance, making eye contact in between immersions in their performances. Both their bodies moved with the music, Eschenbach jovially swinging his elbows in playful passages and Lang lifting from the bench in powerful passages.
Lang would tip his head back and right toward the audience when he was moved by his own playing, just as the audience was.
An unscheduled piano solo before the intermission allowed the audience to focus completely on Lang’s ivory tickling.
The orchestra concluded with a throwback Beethoven without Lang. While clear and pleasant, this show falls short of perfection for not ending with a Lang bang.
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