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. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 28

    Events

    Alabama: The country music all-timers hit the road for the Southern Drawl tour with openers, the Charlie Daniels Band. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $26-$86. (813) 301-2500.

    Handout photo of Alabama, performing 5/28/17 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Credit: Alan Messer
  3. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach

    Travel

    GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  4. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O’Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Evita in April.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 27

    Events

    Tampa Bay Margarita Festival: The Barenaked Ladies will headline this festival with opener Cowboy Mouth. Enjoy more than 50 varieties of margarita drinks including a Sriracha strawberry, a bacon rita and even a jalapeno Cabo rita. There's beer and vodka for the non-tequila drinkers. Noon, Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N …

    istockphoto