Make us your home page
Instagram

Florida Orchestra's all-Beethoven concert is sublime

Irish pianist John O’Conor is the soloist with the Florida Orchestra for the all-Beethoven concerts.

Courtesy of the Florida Orchestra

Irish pianist John O’Conor is the soloist with the Florida Orchestra for the all-Beethoven concerts.

"When you find conductors that care about the concerto, cherish them." So says pianist John O'Conor, who thinks maestros would rather put more energy into the symphony that's on the second half of most orchestral programs. For the Florida Orchestra's all-Beethoven concert at the Straz Center on Friday, Brazilian-born guest conductor Marcelo Lehninger clearly relished conducting Ludwig's third piano concerto.

Lehninger was especially attentive to Irish pianist O'Conor; every entrance was coordinated with care. The communication was especially clear in the first movement, with the themes passed back and forth between the piano and orchestra quite frequently. At one point, the cellists finished a phrase begun by O'Conor and it was just as if the piano's timbre had been altered with no change in performer.

The second movement to Beethoven's third piano concerto is truly sublime. If that was all the orchestra played, you would have gotten your money's worth. However, you wouldn't have experienced the radical shift in moods from the first movement, which is part of the concerto's magic. All the power of the first movement melts away, and we are forced to pay attention to every delicate motion. For about 11 minutes, O'Conor brought the audience into his world — and the world of Beethoven — by playing the most beautiful music of the night.

The lively rondo that follows, ripe with trills and scales, is refreshing in a way after the sensual second movement. O'Conor did it justice with just the right amount of liberty taken in key moments. Then the audience heard his most enthusiastic playing of the night during the last 15 seconds of the concerto, when he finished the final descending passage with a fierce intensity.

Perhaps none of Beethoven's other works reminds us of his great appreciation of nature more than his sixth symphony, Pastoral, which concluded the program. Beethoven was a man forced into seclusion because of his deafness, which made him love the solace he found in nature all that much more. Each of the five movements was given a title that describes its character, all revolving around an idyllic scene in the countryside.

While the first two works on the program were in a minor key (Overture to Goethe's Egmont in F minor and Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor), the Pastoral symphony certainly made up the difference in mood. No doubt it had at least a few members of the audience imagining the centaurs, cupids and fauns from when the work was featured in Disney's 1940 animated film Fantasia.

.If you go

Bravo Beethoven

The Florida Orchestra performs the concert again at 7:30 tonight at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

Florida Orchestra's all-Beethoven concert is sublime 01/11/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 11, 2014 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Rick and Morty' Rickmobile is coming to Tampa next week

    Events

    We now have details on when and where Rick and Morty's belching Rickmobile will be when the rolling promo for the cult hit Adult Swim show swings through Tampa on Sept. 27.

    Ricky and Morty fans will head to the Lowry Parcade and Tavern in Tampa on Sept. 27 where a pop-up merch store that will operate out of a Rick Sanchez-shaped truck.
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 21

    Events

    Nas: The Illmatic rapper is considered one of the greatest MCs alive. 7 p.m., Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Start at $43. (727) 565-0550.

    NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 17:  Rapper Nas performs onstage during the Meadows Music and Arts Festival - Day 3 at Citi Field on September 17, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images) 775044033
  3. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters

    Stage

    TAMPA — Two decades after Rent shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Pasco Events for Sept. 22

    Events

    22 Friday

    Havana Casino Night: Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce presents casino-style gaming to benefit Hurricane Irma victims. 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Members pay $25 in advance, $30 at door; non-members pay $30 advance, $35 at door. White Room Bar and Lounge, 6472 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Land …

  5. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'

    Events

    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]