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Santa Fe
Lensic Performing Arts Center
10/10/2021 -  
Ludwig van Beethoven : Symphony No 2 in D Major, Op. 36 - Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat major, Op. 73, “Emperor”
Drew Petersen (piano)
Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, Guillermo Figueroa (Conductor)

D. Petersen (© SFSO)

The Boller Brothers, architects based in Kansas City, Missouri, have designed over one hundred theaters in the first half of the twentieth century. Twenty are listed in the National Register of Historic Place: the Santa Fe “Lensic” is one of them, the “KiMo” in Albuquerque is another example. With a seating capacity shy of eight hundred, this small, and yet stunning venue, was built in the pseudo-Moorish, Spanish Renaissance style. It was completely restored in 2001 and now provides the State of New Mexico’s capital with a modern venue for the Performing Arts and a home for the Santa Fe Symphony (SFSO) and the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestras. On Sunday, the Lensic hosted the SFSO in a classical program celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birth anniversary.

Beethoven’s Second Symphony is quite an astonishing work. Surprisingly enough, at a time when the composer, barely thirty-one years old, is haunted by suicidal thoughts due to worsening deafness, he writes these playful and twirling pages. The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra brings out this farandole of joy (and resignation) with panache and no excessive mannerism. In such an abundance of ideas, musical director Guillermo Figueroa maintains flexibility. In the Adagio molto, the musicians literally sing the slow solemnity from the introduction, with a beautiful performance of violas and cellos in the Allegro con brio part of this first movement. With the Scherzo allegro, the nuance of tone between the serene and pastoral joy of the Larghetto, drifting into capricious gaiety, is clearly marked. The Allegro molto is played in the same unbridled spirit, but with a more delicate and perhaps zestier infatuation. The strings are remarkably alert and whimsical, while the flute (Jessie Tatum), then the bassoons (Stefanie Przybylska/Leslie Shultis), stand out with distinction.

After intermission, we move on to the Imperial pièce de résistance: Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto. Young American Pianist Drew Petersen has a brilliant pedigree: Harvard, Julliard, first-prize competitions, you name it... The technique is commanding, piano lines are fluid and warm. Body language is restrained: a good compromise between the stiffness of a Rubinstein and the detestable antics of a Lang Lang or a Buniatishvili. Maestro Figueroa connects admirably with the soloist while allowing the orchestra mobility. A real dialogue sets in, offering superb and unaffected exchanges between strings and woodwinds in the Adagio. The sound of the orchestra is lush, and the dialogues between chairs are almost flawless. A limpid musical discourse with clear articulations enables the music to breathe in this solidly structured approach. It took a minute or so before Drew Petersen fully embraced this piece, but when he did, the impression of dryness that had raised fear of an immaterial interpretation was totally dispelled. A confident, lyrical piano took over. Drew Petersen received a standing ovation from the audience. Very graciously, he offered an encore: Chopin’s virtuosic Prelude in D minor, Op. 28, No 24.

With a dashing and bold orchestra, a brilliant soloist, under the precise and eloquent baton of SFSO’s principal conductor, all delivered a delightful concert with several moments of excellence.

Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra
Pianist Drew Petersen
Images of the Lensic Performing Art Center

Christian Dalzon



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