In performance: Tchaikovsky at Strathmore
BSO features young artists but few strings in Strathmore program
by Robert Battey
Precocious young soloists took center stage in an all-Tchaikovsky program Saturday evening, as the Baltimore Symphony continued its summer series at Strathmore. Economy seemed to be the watchword here; the orchestra was sadly undersized — a grand total of 10 low strings.
This made for poor balances in the brassy “Capriccio Italien,” and despite five names listed on the orchestra’s conducting roster, for this concert they reached down into the viola section for the evening’s maestro, Christian Colberg. With all that, plus the undoubtedly-modest honoraria paid the two 15-year-old soloists, the well-attended concert must certainly have amounted to a fiscal success.
(read more after the jump)
In the violin concerto, Sirena Huang, a mere slip of a girl, dug a strong, penetrating tone out of her fiddle, and her cadenza featured a number of original ideas (which I thought was impossible in a piece I’ve heard this often). Her intonation strayed the slightest bit during the more strenuous passage-work, and her vibrato will surely acquire more variety and expressive force in time. But this was a fully-formed reading, absolutely secure technically and full of delight.
Conrad Tao was similarly unfazed by the terrors of the big piano concerto; his poise throughout was that of a seasoned pro. He stretched out phrase-endings without a hint of self-consciousness, and tossed off the sweeping arpeggios of the first cadenza and the thundering octaves leading to the second one with calm perfection. As with Huang, his actual palette of sound and expressive devices is still in development, but the level this youth is operating on right now is amazing.
— Robert Battey
[edited to fix formatting]
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