A truly gala occasion
Jack Singer Concert Hall
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Die Zauberflöte Overture K. 620 – Concerto No. 10 for two pianos in E-flat Major K. 365/316a
Richard Strauss: Burleske in D minor*
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major Op. 10
Luca Buratto*, Szymon Nehring (piano)
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Karina Canellakis (conductor)
K. Canellakis (© Chris Christodoulou)
The Honens International Piano Competition took a bit of a break after the ten semi-finalists had completed their solo and collaborative programs and presented this festival concert with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra under fast-rising star conductor Karina Canellakis, who made a fine impression with a bold and bracing account of the overture to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
The big winner at Honens in 2015, Luca Buratto, then gave us a lively account, even giddy in places, of Richard Strauss’s Burleske. If it’s not as outright comical as works by PDQ Bach, it stands amusingly as a send-up of Lisztian pyrotechnics. Its rather brief lyrical moments, though, seem sincere while they last. In many ways it is a Hollywood-style concerto before Hollywood was even conceived. The pianist’s athleticism is indeed impressive.
Polish pianist Szymon Nehring was the winner in 2017 of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition which is held in Tel Aviv. (By way of an exchange arrangement, Mr. Buratto also performed in the Israeli city.) He gave a thoroughly persuasive account of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Once again sheer athleticism was on display, as well as surgical co-ordination between pianist and orchestra. Truly exhilarating!
After the interval we heard Mozart’s Concerto No. 10 for two pianos, with Mr. Nehring leading off with the treble passage. This was BIG Mozart, given the two modern concert grands, but there was still lots of space for intimacy. The degree of unity between the two pianists bordered on the astonishing.
For the encore, the two pianists treated us to a sizzling rendition of Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 with, once again, uncanny unison all the way through.