Reviewer Garrett Harris felt something was “off” in his recent review of the San Diego Symphony’s concert with Jeremy Denk…things got better…then technology reared it’s ugly head.
Every piece of music on Saturday night was tied to the piano. The piano theme is part of the San Diego Symphony’s Upright and Grand initiative for the piano and I’m enjoying the music it is producing.
The first piece of piano related music was a John Adams orchestration of a bizarre piano piece by Franz Liszt entitled The Black Gondola. The music was sparse and subdued, two things we don’t associate with the flamboyant Liszt. Les Preludes this was not.
The beauty of the tutti string segments was legitimate and the horn solo was spectacular in its phrasing and tuning but the feeling of this music was muy triste. The music felt reluctant, almost as if it didn’t want to be performed.
After intermission, it was time for the the Emperor, which began well.
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with pianist Jeremy Denk was the second half of the concert. Denk is in the top tier of world pianists and his performance was engaging in that he allowed a sense of humor to sneak into the music of the first movement. It felt as though he wanted to do even more with the playfulness but decorum held him back.
Then it happened. Right at the top of the second movement a cell phone began to ring and ring and ring. I’ll admit it threw me for a loop. That feeling of being trapped came back.