Hannu Lintu & Marcus Groh – 28 October 2010   Leave a comment

Sallinen: Fanfare

Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major [w/ Marcus Groh]

(Encore) Brahms: Intermezzi, Op. 117, No. 1 [Marcus Groh]

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

Kathryn and I got to visit a little while with a friend who met us over very inexpensive tickets for the opening night of guest conductor Hannu Lintu’s stand with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

The performance was something of a mixed bag, but, thoroughly enjoyable. As I’m not familiar with either the conductor, or the featured performer, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The opening fanfare was a piece commissioned some years ago by the HSO, in honor of the state’s Sesquicentennial. A nice, bright opening to the evening’s programme, the next piece, unfortunately, had a bit of a problem.

It was almost half-way through the concerto when I figured out what was so irritating. There was a palpable disconnect between Mr. Groh’s performance and the symphony’s. Mr. Groh was outstanding, and the symphony was solid. However, the performance of the concerto came off more like complimentary monologues, instead of a conversation. Not being familiar with the piece, this may have everything to do with the composition, and not the performers. If so, my apologies for not “getting it.”

Mr. Groh came back out and performed the opening piece from his latest release (Thankfully, it was available in the lobby. Both titles in his catalog are Hybrid SACD releases). An absolutely wonderful performance: Passionate and engaging. Bravo.

The performance of the Eroica was excellent. Even from the back of the hall, it seemed like the players where rising to an occasion and having a great time doing it. This evening’s performance would be one to own. Mr. Lintu got a very well balanced performance from the HSO. Bravo.

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