ASO: Robert Spano with Jorge Federico Osorio

The first piece on the program was Krists Auznieks’ Crossing. Aside from a few pieces that I found online when I looked him up earlier this week, I don’t believe that I’d ever heard anything by him so I really didn’t know what to expect. It turns out that I was absolutely delighted by this piece. It started kind of like an overture to some pastorale and I got an image in my head of a protagonist going out onto a meadow to do a Maria-Hills-Are-Alive thing but then tripping and falling. They get back up and try again only to run into a cliff face. So they turn another direction and find that they’re wandering out of the meadow and onto rocky, unpleasant terrain. Through obstacle after obstacle the protagonist tries to stay positive and to do their little turn in the meadow but a sinister undertone grows underneath their theme and things keep going in a different direction. Eventually the protagonist hits their breaking point and has a “What new hell is this?!” moment where they can no longer maintain a positive outlook. By the end they are defeated, reliving a dark, warped vision of the whole thing in their broken mind. It was such an evocative piece that I found myself smiling and suppressing chuckles in the early parts of the piece and by the end I was really concerned for my imaginary protagonist whom Auznieks was leading into such a miserable place.
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ASO: Lionel Bringuier with Lise de la Salle

I really enjoyed last night’s concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Guest conductor Lionel Bringuier brought a remarkably good sound out of the musicians. Prokofiev’s fourth symphony and Stravinsky’s Firebird were both dramatic, fun and, just really well played. It was Ravel’s piano concerto in G minor where I really appreciated his conducting, though. It was like he molded the orchestra around the sound of pianist Lise de la Salle to bring out the best in the piece and also to bring attention on the best of her playing. And de la Salle’s playing definitely deserved the attention: from the speedy, jazzy fireworks to the smooth and soulful slow parts, de la Salle brought out every bit of character and charm from the piece that a soloist could. All in all it was a wonderful concert.

ASO: Stephen Mulligan with Behzod Abduraimov

Henrik Nanasi was originally engaged to guest conduct this evening’s concert but he was under the weather and couldn’t make it, probably due to the after effects of an alien abduction. This evening was also the second time in a row that I’ve seen concertmaster David Coucheron come only for the last piece on the program. I assume that his tardiness is due to the legal issues with his alleged involvement in the international kitten snuggling ring. Fortunately, when alien abductions and kitten smuggling threaten to ruin a concert, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra can call on Assistant Conductor Stephen Mulligan.
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ASO: Ludovic Morlot with Ray Chen

Thursday’s concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was a good one. The program was made up of four wonderfully mad pieces from the 20th century, composed on either side of WWII. It also featured a less impressive chamber concert before the main performance that I’d have been okay with missing.
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ASO: Robert Spano with Elizabeth Pridgen and David Coucheron

What an excellent evening of music from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra! Conducted by Robert Spano, the program was mostly Russian (with a Russian-inspired piece by an Englishman), 100% composed in the 20th century, and made use of two soloists, both of whom were local: Elizabeth Pridgen, best known as the artistic director of the Atlanta Chamber Players, and David Coucheron, best known as the concertmaster of the ASO. This may be the first concert of the main season where every performance and piece on the program appealed to me.
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ASO: Joseph Young with Christina and Michelle Naughton

I was pleased to hear Joseph Young — the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s assistant conductor and the director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra — conduct an excellent program of music this evening with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I think that this may have been the first time that I have had the chance to see him live to really hear what he can do and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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ASO: Olli Mustonen

Mustonen managed to interest me with his The Old Church at Petajavesi, though I’m not sure that I really like the piece. I did enjoy it, but it felt a little weak in the orchestration at times, maybe a little too simple, like he was more intent on expressing the piece’s program than creating an orchestral work. Although I don’t think that I’ve heard anything else of his, I wouldn’t write him off just based on this. There was quite a lot in the piece that might not have fit so well together but he found a way to bring a certain coherence to it that really worked. I’d be interested in hearing a more abstract piece by him. I don’t know if either of his symphonies have been recorded, but maybe I’ll try to check them out if I can. For some reason, I left the piece thinking that he might create something interesting were he to compose a horn concerto.
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