US Orchestra Convinces Audience
Concert: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and pianist Yuja Wang enthuse listeners in the Tonhalle
Westdeutsche Zeitung Lars Wallerang 9/7/2013
Officially it’s not one of the ‘Big Five’, the elite American orchestras, but the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, formed 115 years ago, can certainly look these in the eye on equal terms. Great stars of the rostrum of the twentieth century such as Otto Klemperer and Fritz Reiner held leading positions in Pittsburgh, and composers too have paid homage to the orchestra, among them Sir Edward Elgar and Richard Strauss.
In particular with a tone poem by Strauss, Ein Heldenleben op. 40, the musicians from Pittsburgh showed that, now under the aegis of an Austrian, Manfred Honeck, they are still playing in the top league.
Leader of the orchestra the secret star of the evening
Already the heroic, proud, almost bruisingly posing opening of this musical hero- biography was an impressive success. It was as though a long-haul jet was taking off. Honeck showed himself to be an athletic pilot who enjoyed the fast pace and the virtuoso potential. And the Heldenleben offers plenty of scope for bravura escapades. For precision work, which Strauss scores demand no less, the orchestra can come up with subtle soloists, lyrical and elegant horn-playing, and even more, with a fantastic leader, who celebrated the violin solo in the movement ‘Des Helden Gefährtin’, which oscillates between grace and cattiness, like a concerto cadenza. This first violin was the secret star of the evening, of whom one gets the impression that he could at any time equally well shine with a difficult solo by Bach or Paganini.