About us / Contact

The Classical Music Network


Europe : Paris, Londn, Zurich, Geneva, Strasbourg, Bruxelles, Gent
America : New York, San Francisco, Montreal                       WORLD

Your email :



Andsnes and Stasevska reimagine 20th century favorites

Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
05/03/2024 -  & May 4, 2024
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116

Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska (Conductor)

L. O. Andsnes, D. Stasevska (© Diana Antal)

Dalia Stasevska has joined the burgeoning league of sought-after women conductors, and with good reason. After witnessing her lead the Philadelphia Orchestra on May 3, I am convinced there is nothing in the realm of conducting that she can’t do. Equally intriguing is her originality and the element of surprise she brought to a program consisting of two 20th century standards, the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, with Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist, and the spectacular Bartók Concerto for Orchestra.

Stasevska is chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony (Finland) and principal guest conductor of the BBC Orchestra, but that pallid description says nothing about the fierce passion and intimate tenderness with which she can create stirring musical landscapes that bear her own stamp of authenticity and individualism.

The program was off to a slow start in the Rachmaninoff, a hugely challenging work with demands on the orchestra as well as the soloist. In the first movement, Andsnes provided a cool counterpart to the increasing heat of the orchestra, a nice balance. Attired in black, a tall individual in his mid 50s, Andsnes has an attitude of quiet enthusiasm and, when gazing at the audience, gives the appearance of pleasantly assessing us rather than vice versa. There is nothing fake or vainglorious about him, though he has every right to feel confident pride in his remarkable talents as an artist, expressively as well as in technical skill.

Behind the grand piano lid, Stasevska could be seen in part waving her baton with furious energy and real joy as she molded the evolution of a masterpiece with frequent eye contact with the pianist. The overall impression I had of this performance was of a work that was forward-driven, with some spectacularly rapid playing by both artist and orchestra. I would have preferred a little more reflection and less momentum in general, perhaps a tad more warmth, but there is no doubt this was a high-energy, well-disciplined performance. Andsnes balanced this with an encore both subtle and sweet: Brahms’s Intermezzo in E Major, Sixth from the 7 Fantasies Op. 116.

I was surprised to discover that, of the two works, I preferred the performance of the Concerto for Orchestra. Here we could really get a grip on Stasevska’s interpretive style. Her presentation was unique, imbuing a familiar work with depth, a rainbow of colors and shadings, and a startling, almost reckless drive. While I would not want to hear this version of Bartók’s edgy swan song with too great a frequency, I definitely hope to hear it again. And again. What a pleasure to watch Stasevska as she folds the individual voices of the orchestra into a grand soufflé of sound. She grasps the air around her with powerful arms and stomps on the floor beneath, creating a rhythm indistinguishable from the percussion section. Absolutely remarkable. Hats off, too, to the versatile Philadelphia Orchestra, for transforming into a symphonic ensemble so different yet equally fascinating from its everyday personality.

The conductor’s passion for music merges with her activism in daily life. Born in Kyiv, Stasevska is known for championing the Ukrainian cause and, according to at least one press account, has driven trucks full of supplies to the land of her birth and supported the cause in events around the world. While there were times in this concert that I was concerned that the conductor was leading with too much gusto, I remembered the saying that we are not given more than we can bear (or deliver). Certainly, this young woman will continue to lead with her feisty spirit as long as the music requires and audiences demand.

Linda Holt



Copyright ©ConcertoNet.com