Piano prodigy gives confident performance in Grieg concerto with TSO

Drew Petersen
Arizona Daily Star

By Cathalina E. Burch

Drew Petersen had never performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto with an orchestra before Friday night, but you’d have a hard time convincing the 1,300 people loosely filling the Tucson Music Hall.

First times are supposed to be filled with nervous jitters and little hiccups. However, Petersen was confident and assured, as if he had performed the piece so many times it was burnished into his muscle memory.

Petersen played with a gentle hand, gliding over the keys with a sense of confident grace that made the dramatic opening virtuosic cadenza look easy.

He didn’t lean on the showy flourishes that some bigger-name pianists are known for. His movements were purposeful and fluid, and not once did it sound like he was trying to compete to be heard over the orchestra. With few exceptions, he seemed in step with Stern and played alongside the orchestra, never over them.

As an encore, Petersen, coming off a prolonged standing ovation, played Gershwin’s jazzy standard “The Man I Love.”

Read the full review.