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Symphony review: Musical questions and answers in season opener

09.30.17
Jonathan Biss
The Florida Times-Union

The Jacksonville Masterworks Series has returned to Jacoby Symphony Hall with an opening performance of impressive range and heartfelt introspection.
The hefty program was anchored by contemporary American composer Timo Andres’s “The Blind Banister,” a piece whose quixotic title does little to let the listener know what is coming. The “Banister” is a study of Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, also featured on the program, but is better described as a deconstruction of this early and earnest Beethoven work.
“Banister” featured guest pianist Jonathan Biss, Curtis Institute faculty member and noted Beethoven authority, for whom the piece was written. Biss’s rounded, lush expressions did much to further the accessibility of this challenging work. For fans of the more avant-grade, “Banister” has much to offer by way of exploring themes hidden in Beethoven, expounding on the fundamental tensions between order and chaos implied by rising and falling arpeggios traded between piano and orchestra. Biss’ tender rendering, in a clever bit of programming, was immediately followed by the inspiring work, leaving the listener questioning the heretofore straightforward language of early Beethoven in fresh ways. Read the rest of the review here