ASO performs breathtaking all-Russian concert

Robert Spano
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Spano created larger movements by grouping the individual poems, directing the scaled-back chamber orchestra of strings and percussion with care and precision. The soloists were supported by music that was in places thorny and almost folklike; the music could be driving, the sharp edges of the string writing propelling the singers forward, or smooth and crystalline. The accompaniment is sparse, and many times only a single instrument — Daniel Laufer’s warm, inviting cello or concertmaster David Coucheron’s burning violin — is left to support the two singers.

During the Rachmaninoff, Trpceski, a master technician, gave each note a shimmering musicality. From the first timid, slowly unfurling chords to the final triumphant phrases, the pianist worked hard to highlight Rachmaninoff’s writing. While it is a showpiece full of bubbly piano runs and acrobatic playing, it’s important that a pianist keep the music, and not his ego, front and center. Trpceski performed without any hints of florid theatricality, eschewing self-serving and showy playing; the pianist’s acute sense of dynamics and careful attention to melody perfectly matched the orchestra’s accompaniment. At times, though, the overly loud orchestra rendered the piano nearly mute. On the whole, the full, powerful orchestra elevated Rachmaninoff’s beautiful ensemble writing and helped Trpceski create a breathtaking performance.