Soloist Cornelia Herrmann soars in Florida Orchestra performance

TAMPA — Is there a more perfect piece of music than Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21? I don't think so.

Cornelia Herrmann was the soloist in the crown jewel of Mozart's 27 piano concertos with the Florida Orchestra, Stefan Sanderling conducting, Friday night at Morsani Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

The delightfully unpredictable nature of the concerto is exemplified by the belated, deceptively offhand entrance of the pianist in the first movement, with Herrmann fitting into the orchestral texture in serene fashion. A highlight was the cadenza (by the great pianist, Wilhelm Kempff) in the first movement that was both mysterious and forthright, if that's possible, in the Austrian soloist's assured reading.

The slow movement was a dream, with Herrmann bringing a limpid touch to the famous melody over muted strings and pizzicato cello and bass. The only blemish in her virtuoso performance came in a moment of insecure pitch during the rapid passage work of the finale.

Friday's program opened with an alert run through the bubbly overture to Haydn's rarely staged opera, La Fedelta Premiata.

Bruckner's hourlong Symphony No. 3 occupied the second half of the concert, and the solos of principal French horn Robert Rearden and principal flute Clay Ellerbroek were especially notable. Sanderling shaped a beautifully modulated, soft-edged performance of Brucknerian sonority that I had to leave a few minutes early to make my deadline.

As fine as the performance was, I'm puzzled why Bruckner's Third is on a program this season, since the music director and orchestra played it not that long ago, in 2006. There's nothing wrong with repeating works, but this is not exactly Beethoven's Eroica in terms of popularity or importance. By my count, at least four of Bruckner's 10 symphonies (not including revised versions) are yet to be played by the orchestra during Sanderling's tenure. Why not program one of those that hasn't been heard?

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

.if you go

Mozart and more

Program repeats at 8 p.m. today at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $15, $30, $45; $10 for students, teachers and military. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free, 1-800-662-7286; floridaorchestra.org.

Soloist Cornelia Herrmann soars in Florida Orchestra performance 12/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 11:15pm]

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