ASO: Donald Runnicles with Kim-Lillian Strebel

I made it to Thursday’s pre-concert chamber recital program for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and took no notes at all. Then I went to see T. Lang’s dance piece at the High and, while waiting for it to start, I realized that much of it didn’t make enough of an impression to stick with me. The first piece was Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso arranged for two marimbas by ASO Principal Percussionist Joseph Petrasek. I remember thinking it interesting and then kind of getting bored with it, which is a shame because I generally love the timbre of marimbas, especially when played in duets, and I like the piece on piano. I did like the way that Petrasek and Michael Stubbart played together, though, and would enjoy hearing more marimba duets from them in the future.
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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 with Jun Märkl and Giora Schmidt

Saturday’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with guest conductor Jun Märkl seemed to get off to a rocky start. The first piece on the program was Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini Overture, which is a charming and colorful piece with which to start an evening of music. Unfortunately, the orchestra was a bit muddy, particularly at the beginning. I suspect that things might have come out better if Märkl had waited a few seconds to get everyone’s attention before cuing the performance’s start: he leapt upon the podium and began the piece nearly immediately, significantly faster than I’ve seen from any other conductor. It wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t the best way to start the evening.
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ASO: Miguel Harth-Bedoya with Alcides Rodriguez and Ksenija Sidorova

I don’t know why we bothered to sit at all at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s concert last night. The programmed works were all relatively short and Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the soloists delivered such great performances of all of them that we just had to pop out of our seats for a standing ovation after each piece. Both in terms of programming and performance, it will probably end up being my favorite concert of the season.
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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: Thomas Søndergård with Alexandre Tharaud

Have you ever wondered what the works of the French Impressionist composers would sound like if conducted in a Wagnerian style? I sure haven’t but, thanks to Thomas Søndergård, I now know that it would sound pretty lame. Or was it just me? When an entire concert is this far off mark then I find myself doubting my own ears, so I guess that maybe there is a chance that this evening’s ASO performance wasn’t played like it was a program of late German romanticism and I’m just crazy. Take that as you will.
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ACP: Glass, Gresham, Debussy, & Ravel

After feeling under the weather for much of the day, I managed to feel more like myself this evening by the time that I went to the Atlanta Chamber Players concert at the New American Shakespeare Tavern. Not that I’m glad that I didn’t feel well enough to go into work this morning, but it was great going to a weeknight concert without being drained by traffic.

Despite having a ticket to sit on the floor, I decided that I’d be better seated in the balcony. The problem with the New American Shakespeare Tavern, which is also one of it’s boons, is that it’s also a restaurant so the floor and box seats are all tables and they are usually filled by the people who are going to be eating there a good hour before a show starts. The empty seats that remained by the time that I arrived were all at awkward angles or behind where the cellists would be sitting, which wouldn’t serve me terribly well when compared with a seat in the center of the balcony. It’s such an intimate venue that even the balcony seats give a good, personal perspective of the stage and I consider the price for the floor seat a very reasonable price for the concert in any seat and have no problem with either ACP or the New American Shakespeare Tavern making a few extra bucks off of me.
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