Pianist Yulianna Avdeeva brings Beethoven to Pittsburgh!
American orchestras are indebted to the music traditions established in Europe centuries ago, but the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in particular takes pride in its European sound. The ensemble is on the more expressive end of the American orchestral spectrum, which, at least stereotypically, tends to prioritize precision over feeling. Music director Manfred Honeck often chips into that effort by deriving inspiration from the traditions he grew up with in Austria.
With Friday’s program of Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven, the PSO and Mr. Honeck offered a concert that capitalized on that Austro-German leaning, this time with an added dose of intimacy. Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass, which was the chronological and spiritual heart of the concert, seemed to shrink Heinz Hall even before the piece began, as the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh wrapped itself around the orchestra instead of standing on risers.
The compactness symbolized by the chorus’ physical setup in the Mozart seemed to blow wide open with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), featuring Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva. Ms. Avdeeva made her PSO debut a couple of seasons ago, but her bold performance this time was more impressive.
The program opened with Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”), which swayed between warmth and haunting quietude.
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