January 23, 2019

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Romantic classics suitable Valentines for music lovers

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/2/2015 (1439 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra wore its heart on its sleeve Friday night with its special Valentine gift to music lovers — its latest Masterworks program inspired by that which makes the world go round.

The concert of four works featured the New York City-based Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, comprised of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe who have lit up stages with their electrifying performances since 2002. The two artists first met as students at NYC’s Juilliard School and continue to tour worldwide, with concerts slated this season throughout North America, Asia and Europe.

It also marked the WSO debut of charismatic guest conductor Daniel Raiskin whose rapport with the orchestra members — clearly smitten — became immediately palpable. The St. Petersburg-born maestro has led the “Artur Rubinstein” Philharmonic Orchestra in the Polish city of Lodz since 2008, and it is hoped he will return to this podium — and soon.

Any Mozart work on the bill is always a pleasure. Hearing two pianists — literally — for the price of one performing together is a rare treat. And remarkably, their featured work, Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 365 has not been heard on this stage since 1982.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/2/2015 (1439 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra wore its heart on its sleeve Friday night with its special Valentine gift to music lovers — its latest Masterworks program inspired by that which makes the world go round.

The concert of four works featured the New York City-based Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, comprised of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe who have lit up stages with their electrifying performances since 2002. The two artists first met as students at NYC’s Juilliard School and continue to tour worldwide, with concerts slated this season throughout North America, Asia and Europe.

It also marked the WSO debut of charismatic guest conductor Daniel Raiskin whose rapport with the orchestra members — clearly smitten — became immediately palpable. The St. Petersburg-born maestro has led the "Artur Rubinstein" Philharmonic Orchestra in the Polish city of Lodz since 2008, and it is hoped he will return to this podium — and soon.

Any Mozart work on the bill is always a pleasure. Hearing two pianists — literally — for the price of one performing together is a rare treat. And remarkably, their featured work, Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat major, K. 365 has not been heard on this stage since 1982.

After the orchestra’s sprightly introduction in the opening Allegro, the two pianists asserted their commanding presence and true showmanship matched by dazzling technique. One player would often finish the other’s cascading figuration, in an engaging musical dialogue where they took part equally in the conversation.

They also brought their own personalities to bear. Roe, as the duo’s spitfire, threw sparks every time she had a solo, tossing off crisp runs and fluid arpeggios. Anderson proved to be the eloquent poet, at his most lyrical best during the Andante. Then it became time for the finale Rondo: Allegro, tightly synchronized with the two musicians playing off each other while infusing the movement with rhythmic vitality and drive.

In response to a rousing standing ovation and three curtain calls, the couple then tossed off a jaw-dropping, four-handed encore of a Piazzola tango that saw each musician toppling over the other, plucking strings inside the instrument that grew more incredible by the minute.

The evening opened with Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream that sparkled with pixie dust worthy of a magical wood. Raiskin’s approach infused the work with drama — from its hushed opening with the strings taut with suspense to its more languorous, contrasting themes — in a wholly satisfying performance.

The program also included quintessentially romantic composer, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture-fantasy based on Shakespeare’s tale of woe. Once again, under Raiskin’s baton, the players clearly brought out its three primary themes: the serenity of Friar Laurence, the clashing swordplay of the warring Capulets and Montagues and the unabashedly romanticism of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.

Those of a certain vintage will remember how Ravel’s Bolero served as sultry soundtrack for 1979 film 10. And of course, this classic is forever linked with the great Leonard Bernstein, setting his musical course after becoming thunderstruck hearing it as a youth.

The WSO began its well-paced journey, driven by the hypnotic snare drum ostinato, that gradually adds layers before building to its climactic finish.

The concert repeats tonight, 8 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

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