Friday, January 9, 2009


Just back from tonight's Pacific Symphony concert, which blended some good old fashioned Latin-American machismo with the musical refinement of Vienna. I'm talking about Carlos Kalmar, the guest conductor who's a Uruguayan born to Austrian parents and now is music director of the Oregon Symphony, living there and in Vienna.

Alison called his program "muscular" (I used a less delicate term.): Mozart's Prague Symphony--my least favorite of the evening, but probably just a warm-up for the main courses: Janacek's Taras Bulba--an audacious cacophony of aggressive melodies, section solos, and panoramic themes evocative of the best film scores--plus Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 delivered with all due flamboyance by the 31 year old British wunderkind Freddy Kempf. Enescu's popular Romanian Rhapsody was the finale, putting the orchestra through its paces as an oversized Gypsy wedding band.

Kalmar's hair length rivals PSO music director Carl St. Clair's, and he delivered a charming and humorous survey of the program before conducting the Janacek piece.

For me, the Janacek was a revelation--not only as a piece of music I'd never heard by a composer I've mostly ignored, but as a vehicle that displayed the orchestra in all its glory, an ensemble of quite amazing virtuosity.

There's another performance Saturday night. Run don't walk to it.

Until next time...


PS--a surprise bonus treat was Lori Loftus showcasing the new 4,300 pipe Gillespie organ as a curtain call!

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