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Czech confluences meet Broadway© rhythms

Orange County
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
11/30/2017 -  & 1, 2 December 2017
Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau from “Má Vlast”
George Gershwin: Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra
Antonín Dvorák: Symphony N° 7 in D minor, opus 70, B. 141

Xiayin Wang (piano)
Pacific Symphony, Nick Eaton (guest concertmaster), Anu Tali (conductor)

X. Wang (© David White)

As witnessed in the absorbing ”East Meets West” performance, Pacific Symphony has a penchant for culling up-and-coming artists from global opposites to expand its international delivery. Bookended by two Bohemian compositions of vastly differing energies, we find pianiste extraordinaire, Xiayin Wang, ablaze inside Gershwin’s electrified Concerto in F while Estonian Anu Tali congeals transparency in this weighty programme.

A. Tali (© Erik Riikoja)

Don’t be fooled by the diminutive blonde-haired Tallinn native, for Maestro Tali’s meticulousness is squarely incisive, and her baton control is a fascinating observation. Anu Tali’s conducting can be characterized as an infinitesimal series of “grace notes” stretching from arms to hands…the approach likens itself to a powerful magnet gathering ferrous fines into lines of mathematical order…this cleanly shapes Gershwin’s captivating score. Clearly, Anu Tali is the hierarch, yet it doesn’t preclude Ms. Wang from circling inside her own independence.

An enigma of sorts, Concerto in F’s “Allegro” immediately pops with Todd Miller’s timpani and ensuing Ravelian kicks, setting a high bar for fanfare swells. With rarified mannerisms, Xiayin Wang deftly maneuvers through each of Gershwin’s stylized movements by showing nothing but the utmost control as to the vibe and sassy distinctions wrapped inside the exhilarating score. Ms. Wang’s keyboard vocabulary enriches while, simultaneously, tackles the dizzying folds in cogent formation.

Furthermore, oboe and trumpet soothingly usher in the “Adagio – andante con moto” while guest concertmaster (and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra’s former concertmaster), Nick Eaton, delivers a silvery, fleeting display of solo violin inside this bluesy segment. When turning the page once again, one can’t help but be stunned by the conclusive “Allegro agitato” and its pseudo-[retour] Grandioso apex that quixotically jump starts again and flashes back to the gaping awesomeness by Xiayin Wang. A veritable crowd-pleaser, this rendition of the Gershwin concerto is exceptional, for it guarantees an encore on the highest level.

Bedrich Smetana’s The Moldau is the musical amuse-bouche, a perfect entrée to building upon the evening’s progressively weighty pieces. Bohemia’s idyllic confluence is incisively controlled by Anu Tali, whereby we glimpse softer sections that are organically mollified without use of baton. She seizes on precision and economic detail while sweeping into the score with continuous crescendos and decrescendos that act as surfactants to the Vltava’s hot and cold springs. Even though Ms. Tali spares dawdling, she chooses to “up” the tempo at the piece’s crossroad to the transitional major key.

Looked upon as one of the most tempestuous of symphonies, Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony N° 7 is a culmination of divergent forces. The Pacific Symphony blocks [out] complacency though it ferrets out nuances and opposing forces that are strategically postured within the opus’ four sections. Introduced by clarinet and bassoon, the “Poco adagio” is a delightful respite, having succumbed to the earlier angrier portions buried inside the “Allegro maestoso”. The “Scherzo” encompasses images of an ebullient Czech furiant: we’re quickly charmed by Anu Tali’s direction as she intuitively points towards the contrasting use of fortissimo and pianissimo clauses.

This evening’s event was sponsored by The Symphony 100. Prior to commencement of Dvorák’s work, Anu Tali graciously acknowledged the organization, a dedicated group supporting Pacific Symphony’s artistic programming and the education of classical music to fellow members.

Christie Grimstad



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