Stirring Mozart and Brahms from SLSO

Jeremy Denk
St Louis Post-Dispatch

The focus in this weekend’s program by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was chamber music — with one orchestral work that feels like chamber music and a chamber work that’s been expanded for full orchestra — along with a supremely Romantic symphonic poem that riffs on a Greek myth.

Happily, in conductor Jun Märkl and pianist Jeremy Denk, the SLSO had a pair of superb interpreters.

Mozart’s music is always filled with the essence of humanity, both its joys and sorrows. That’s particularly true in the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, where the mix is particularly well-balanced; there’s always something deeper and more meaningful located beneath the wit.

On Friday morning at Powell Hall, Denk brought a delicate but authoritative touch and an almost improvisational air to the proceedings.

Completely in tune with Märkl and the orchestra, he explored the myriad moods of Mozart’s score with every appearance of enjoyment. The cadenza that concluded the first movement sparkled.

They returned the favor, with a display of excellent ensemble work. The woodwinds were in particularly fine form. Lively, spirited and joyous, the effect was as intimate as that of well-played chamber music and brightened the day of those who heard it.

The large audience gave Denk, Märkl and the orchestra a well-deserved ovation. Denk offered an encore, the Andante movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, played with technical skill and depth of feeling.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Arnold Schoenberg’s imaginative orchestration of the Piano Quartet in G minor by Johannes Brahms.
Read the rest of the review here