The young Italian pianist Andrea Lucchesini made a good showing in his premiere performance with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall last evening. Schumann's seminal Piano Concerto in A minor, ancestor to the Romantic concertos of Brahms and Grieg, was played with a fine sense of musicality by Lucchesini, whose long elegant hands coaxed an impressive variety of tonal colors from the hall's Steinway grand.
In Schumann's concerto, the piano part is often a part of the orchestral fabric, rather than being at all times a solo voice. Lucchesini displayed good instincts regarding this point, unselfishly integrating his playing within the orchestral texture at the proper moments and exerting himself authoritatively when the score demanded it. Sensitive conducting by Joseph Sil-ver-stein was also a factor in a good reading of the eloquent con-certo.Lucchesini favored the audience with an encore selection by Scarlatti, and it was at that point that hearts were truly won. The piece revealed the young artist's delicacy of touch and fine tonal control, as well as his excellent dexterity. One senses that Lucchesini is still maturing as an artist but has a bright future.
The concert opened with a performance by Utah composer Marie Nelson, who was present for the occasion. Nelson's work, Ode to Antigone, was inspired by Sophocle's play about the Greek heroine who takes her own life rather than suffering the punishment meted out to her for the crime of burying her brother's body against the wishes of the king.
Nelson's well-crafted composition captures the defiance and pain of the tragic heroine, and illustrates Nelson's skill as an orchestrator. Her use of the brass and percussion sections was especially effective. New works can be rather hard to sell to an audience, and this one was given a somewhat tepid reception by the rather sparse crowd. Silverstein is to be commended for providing a forum for a respected living composer from our own community.
Dvorak's ingratiating Symphony No. 6 in D major was the other offering on the concert. The orchestra and conductor seemed to take a bit of time in achieving cohesion in this work, but eventually everything came together for a nice performance.
Dvorak's love of Slavonic folk song and dance is evident throughout the work, and especially in the last two movements, which fairly whirl with the color and rhythm of lively peasant dances. The heart-racing Finale put every section of the orchestra to the test, with its wildly skittering triplet rhythms and bold flourishes of brass. The fine playing in this tough movement ended the first half of the concert on a pleasant note after a rather slow start.