Beginning a month-long marathon of Tchaikovsky compositions, Minnesota Orchestra wowed a New Years Day afternoon concert with three varied pieces by the composer. First was his very first Symphony, a piece rarely heard these days, unfortunately. It does reveal some of the less mature elements of the composer's, it wanders a bit, but is still an excellent experience. The listening experience this day was enhanced with the fine presentation of several dancers representing the Minnesota Dance Theatre and its artistic director, Lise Houlton.
The second piece, Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C Major was presented by the string sections of the Orchestra without its director, Osmo Vaneska. With the exception of the cello section,members stood and played with such precision and verve as to bring tears. It reveals the rapid sophisticating of the composer, premiering in 1880, twelve years after his First Symphony.
The final piece, a loud, technically brilliant, piece was the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor. It sent orchestra, soloist Inon Barnatan, and the audience into paroxysms of delight, as it was meant to. This most famous piano concerto is also a product of Tchaikovsky's youth. The current version is a revision of the original. Because the composer was not an accomplished pianist and refused some insulting pressure to change the piece for many years, one wonders if the original score is still extant. The concerto is long, ranges from great highs to deep lows and is clearly not in the repertoire of more than a few top-drawer concert pianists.
Once again, the Minnesota Orchestra delivered a fine, instructive and delightful afternoon of classical music.