Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cleveland Orchestra: Yuja Wang Plays Rachmaninoff

Prokofiev: Classical Symphony, Op. 25 (Symphony No. 1)
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D-minor, Op. 30 (Yuja Wang, piano)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scherazade, Op. 35 (Symphonic Suite after The Thousand and One Nights) (William Preucil, solo violin)
Gincario Guerreo, conductor.

Based on how awful I found last week's program and considering the piano features prominently tonight as well, I had seriously considered saving the roughly $150 and skipping this week. I decided otherwise. By the time intermission had rolled around, there was not the slightest doubt as to if my decision.

The opening piece on the program, Prokofiev's Classical Symphony  set the tone for the evening: Swiftly moving without being rushed with a varied texture and interesting development. Mr. Guerrero's facial expressions -- when he rotated enough for them to be visible from Box 3 -- conveyed the excitement and intensity of a television chef brewing fine cuisine. Later in the program, I realized the style was much as I would expect if Julia Child were to conduct an orchestra.

Its difficult to quantify the 45 minutes of musical excitement that was Yuja Wang's performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto -- played as one continuous piece without pause between movements the piece flew by. I was just beginning to ponder the length of what I perceived as the first movement, when I found myself compelled to stand and join the packed house in offering applause.

The final piece on the program brought the exotic notion of the Thousand and One Nights (also known as the Arabian Nights) and once again Mr. Guerreo and the orchestra wove a compelling tapestry of musical imagery. Of particular note the delightful work of the violin (William Preucil), cello (Mark Kosower), and clarinet (Franklin Cohen) principals -- though each section was well represented.


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