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ESO – Anu Tali & Janina Fialkowska

October 20, 2010

Last Saturday night I went to hear the Edmonton Symphony’s last concert prior to their turning themselves over to “La boheme.”  I love it when I get to do this, as it is a chance to hear the orchestra play other repertoire, as well as a chance to get reacquainted with their sound and faces.  Kind of like visiting old friends, without all the pressures of rehearsal.

The program:

Berlioz – Overture to “Beatrice and Benedict”

Chopin – Piano Concerto #1

Part – Symphony #4 (“Los Angeles”)

Anu Tali was the guest conductor, and Janina Fialkowska was the pianist.


I find the Berlioz Overture a hard way to start a program– challenging to grasp the big architecture, and not extremely rewarding as an opener.  But that’s me.  Others likely feel differently.  Either way, it was very elegantly played, and showed the various sections of the orchestra off to good effect.

The Chopin was beautiful, subtle and elegant.  I had not heard Fialkowska play before, and was drawn in by the gentleness of her touch, and her ability to shade the solo part.  She danced over the keyboard, and cascades of sound rippled out.  It was never crashing, always fluid.

After the intermission (daring) came the Part Symphony, a 36 minute work for Strings, Harp and Percussion.  Terrific, surprising colors and timbres.  Wonderful passages for marimba and pizzicato strings.  The harp was a nice glue between the strings and the percussion.  Lots of sudden pauses where the wonderful acoustics of the Winspear Center kept the sound ringing and present.  One pause that I most liked was broken by a lone crotale strike… time… time… and then another crotale a half-step lower.  A very intriguing piece, and I was more than happy to give myself over to Part’s structure.  I lost track of time, and eventually was not even sure which movement we were in.  A winding eighth-note figure emerged in the low strings, section by section adding the cellos, violas and violins, climbing higher and higher, until only the first violins were left, and even they were out of room on the instruments to play higher.  And then it was over.  The ESO audience was riveted throughout.


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