ISO opens with "common practice" music

Pianist Shai Wosner

The ISO's filling the Circle to near capacity can have many

causes.   One is

to omit a Friday-Saturday concert pair and replace it with a Saturday single

while doing a "runout" in place of Friday's -- something we're seeing more of

since the ISO's 2012 lockout -- and applied to this weekend.    Another is to program repertoire

attracting ticket buyers like a magnet. ISO music director Krzysztof

Urbański did both this Saturday. 

With Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms presented in that order,

the Beethoven Coriolanus Overture,

Op. 62, was a last-minute replacement for Webern's neo-Modern Passacaglia, Op. 1, a work which would have better

bookended the Passacaglia movement closing Brahms' Fourth Symphony, coming about one

hour and forty-five minutes later.  But matching bookends is not necessarily

the goal of programming concert music.

And the strongly dramatic Coriolanus is a better companion piece to the dramatic Mozart Piano

Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466

, which followed.  Opening with a minor-6th leap off the C-minor

tonic (compare with the minor 6th leap off the D-minor tonic opening Brahms'

First Piano Concerto; compare the final two unresolved chords ending Puccini's Madama Butterfly), Beethoven continues

punctuating his chords with soft-note motivic responses, and a quiet ending.  In his first

movement, Mozart in-turn punctuates his chords with full melodic responses -- also

ending softly.

With his Symphony No. 4

in E Minor, Op. 98, Brahms reached the height of his

symphonic craft in his Finale, a set of successive variations on an eight-note

theme that virtually explores all manner of musical-orchestral structure with

no interruptions or bridge passages.  I.e. the eight-note ostinato is always


So much for the music; what about the performance?  Urbański

easily lived up to his, by now, vaunted reputation as a conductor who can

duplicate repertoire precision, excellent tempo choices, and well nuanced

dynamic control--in all three works.  Though none reached that exalted

status of  "memorable,"

(Urbański seems to require big show pieces to achieve that), the orchestra

played everything with every bit of the aplomb one expects from our


So what about our Mozart pianist?  Shai Wosner, an Israeli residing In

New York, though technically secure throughout and using the popular

Beethoven-written cadenza for Mozart's first movement only (I did not recognize

the third movement cadenza), his snappy pace tended to cover his scale, passage

and octave work with perhaps some overpedaling, causing the loss of some of

Mozart's winsome articulation. Wosner should have better captured each note, as

a "fortepiano" from Mozart's day could only

accomplish. Sept. 27; Hilbert Circle Theatre


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