For those whose tastes occasionally veer into the classical, here's correspondent Timothy McDonald's reports from the Itzhak Perlman/Rohan DeSilva concert and the Kansas City Symphony's classical series concert with guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero.
Musical royalty arrived at the Folly Theater on Saturday night as violinist Itzhak Perlman performed with pianist Rohan DeSilva.
Perlman, who celebrates the 50th anniversary of his US debut this season, is universally recognized as one of the world's premier performers. His magnificent tone and innate musicality have garnered a lifetime Grammy award, a Kennedy Center honor and innumerable other prestigious citations.
Saturday's sold out performance began with Jean-Marie Leclair's "Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major," a work from the French baroque. From the outset Perlman displayed a rich, full-blooded tone that would make an early music specialist quake in his boots.
Perlman comes from a line of violin virtuosos like Fritz Kreisler and Jascha Heifetz, technically astute performers that engage their audiences and their music with a rich, warm tone and an incredibly sweet sound.
This approach was especially notable in dancelike finale, where Perlman altered and stretched tempos to bring out the beauty of the melodic line. It was like viewing baroque music through a marvelous lens crafted in the late 19th or 20th century.
Great performers surround themselves with other great performers, and De Silva proved himself an excellent pianist.
This was most evident in Ludwig van Beethoven's "Sonata for Violin and Piano in C Minor, Op. 30, No. 2."
After the somber opening for the piano, musical dialogue characterized the first movement. Perlman and De Silva responded to one another with musical intimacy and a rich palette of tonal colors. In addition, they provided strong contrast among musical themes.
The slow movement was extraordinarily beautiful. Playing expressively, the performers stretched the tempo at the ends of the phrases, adding warmth and emotion.
Perlman and De Silva seemed most in their element toward the end of the program, when they played a number of short works from the romantic era.
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The Kansas City Symphony performed a Classical Series concert at the Lyric Theater on Friday night.
Guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, the recently appointed Music Director of the Nashville Symphony, returned to the Lyric stage after a successful concert with the orchestra last season.
The program opened with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Symphony No, 31," nicknamed the "Paris" Symphony.
Rarely have I seen a conductor get as much response from such minimal baton technique. The reduced string section played with a dramatic sense of urgency in the opening movement. A wonderfully blended ensemble sound was marred by a few questionable tunings near the end.
Elegantly shaped phrases characterized the slow central movement, though the ornamental melodic sweeps were not always together. The orchestra exhibited musical vigor in the finale, with driving unison string lines.
Franz Liszt's "Piano Concerto No. 1" featured German pianist Markus Groh. After his opening explosive chords, the soloist played with gentle lyricism. The music was kaleidoscopic, with constantly shifting colors and shapes.
Groh, who earned rave reviews from a recent CD of Liszt's music, displayed impressive technique and emotionally charged interpretation.
Guerrero and the orchestra responded in kind, with fluid interpretation and rhythmic flexibility. For the second week in a row, principal clarinetist Raymond Santos performed his solo lines with excellent tone and phrasing.
The concert ended with Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5." Guerrero conducted this work and the Mozart symphony without a score.
In the opening movement the orchestra exhibited a lush string sound and an alternation of thunderous tuttis with more delicate textures. Guerrero shaped the music with impressive use of dynamics, not only with phrases, but sometimes even with single notes.
The slow second movement was less successful. It featured a lovely French horn solo by Alberto Suarez, marred by a few tenuous notes, and some audible imprecision in the pizzicato strings.
| Timothy McDonald, Special to The Star