A dynamic Carmina Burana at Wolf Trap

JoAnn Falletta

The circumstances of this concert by the National Symphony at Wolf Trap, the orchestra’s summer home, differed a little from the original plan. First, conductor JoAnn Falletta was stepping in under short notice for an indisposed Gianandrea Noseda. Second, the weather couldn’t have been less co-operative, with more than three inches of rain falling during the two-hour show.
The concert consisted of two big works. First on the program was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 5 in E flat major. We all know it as the “Emperor” Concerto, not because the composer so named it but, as in the words of music producer Tom Null, “it so aptly captures the regality of the composer’s biggest concerto: a majestic, sweeping and triumphant statement.” That majesty was on display tonight as the young Korean pianist and 2015 International Chopin Competition prizewinner Seong-Jin Cho turned in a performance that sparkled on many levels. In the opening Allegro movement, the orchestra’s powerful E flat chord along with the piano arpeggios set the stage for a memorable interplay between grand tutti orchestral moments and the solo passages. While I sensed a few spots where there may not have been complete synchronization, I was favorably impressed with the overall sweep of the movement.

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