Beatrice Rana and Pablo Rus Broseta Wow Crowd at Seattle Symphony

Pablo Rus Broseta
The SunBreak

Thursday night at Benaroya Hall saw an enthusiastic crowd of orchestra-goers applauding the 24-year-old soloist Beatrice Rana in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and joining them, an enthusiastic orchestra tapping its bows in appreciation for their young conductor, Pablo Rus Broseta, as he undertook not just the Prokofiev but two very different works of Shostakovich: the Festive Overture and the massive Symphony No. 10.

Pablo Rus Broseta came as assistant conductor to Seattle Symphony in 2015 and, now associate conductor, is in his third season with the orchestra. He has been given increasingly responsibilities and opportunities here and has a steadily rising reputation elsewhere, evidenced by requests for his services, sometimes repeat requests (always a sign of approbation), from Germany, England, Argentina, France, Canada, Texas, and his native Spain, including some for period instrument concerts.

After he pinch-hit very successfully for an injured Ludovic Morlot at a week’s notice for the SSO’s opening gala in September (in a program of largely unfamiliar works with major opera star Renee Fleming), he is now showing his mastery of 20th-century Russian literature.

The Prokofiev concerto is a tour de force for the soloist, requiring extraordinarily deft and consistent finger work at warp speed. Rana, who has only been playing this concerto since 2013, has its technical difficulties completely conquered. Prokofiev himself had butterflies before playing the fast, tricky solo part he had composed for the first time, having to practice hard, but he surely would have approved Rana’s dexterity. The soloist is playing most of the time in the concerto, not much is soft and even less is slower or smooth. Rana’s playing was crisp, sharp-edged, amazingly accurate given the torrents of notes, but sometimes she came close to pounding them out, perhaps something hard not to at this speed and at this dynamic, though she had some beautiful softer, legato moments in the slower variation of the second movement.

Rana and Rus Broseta were exactly on the same page throughout with precise synchronization of the orchestra with the soloist, and with Rana’s role always audible. She came back to vociferous applause to play as encore Debussy’s Toccata from “Pour le piano.” In some ways this was a surprising choice as it requires the same extremely fast finger work, where it would have been nice to hear a different aspect of her musicianship.

The two Shostakovich works are at opposite ends of the composer’s output and sensibilities. The six-minute Festive Overture was dashed off in a couple of hours for a Party celebration. It’s hard to imagine how he had the time even to write down all the notes in this fully orchestrated and developed little piece, which is sunny, cheerful, appropriately heraldic at the start and unusually free of the undercurrents which pervade much of the rest of his work.
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