TROY — Once Mozart came up with the model for a piano concerto, Beethoven laid out further possibilities in his five masterpieces of what a concerto could be as well as exploring the dimensions of what the then new pianoforte was capable of.
On Saturday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Albany Symphony Orchestra music director David Alan Miller led three young pianists through the first three of those concerti to stunning results. On Sunday, Orion Weiss played the other two.
The pianists have all studied with Emanuel Ax, and all have impressive pedigrees with each having won numerous competitions and awards. Louis Schwizgebel, 29, opened with Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, which was composed during Beethoven’s late teens.
When it was published, Beethoven numbered it two because he felt his actual second concerto would have more impact than his first one, Miller told the capacity crowd.
The work, which is very classical in style, is surprisingly tuneful with many delicate passages and quiet moments. Schwizgebel gave the three movements a light touch that was almost poetic.
His technique was immaculate, his style was one of grace and clarity. Balances were excellent, as they were for all the concerti, with Miller and the excellent orchestra giving sympathetic and energetic support.
George Li, 20, who has performed locally several times, knocked off Concerto No. 1 in C Major with an exhilarating pizzazz bolstered by a formidable technique, a strong sense of style, and elegant and taut phrases. His tone was firm and big to match the larger orchestral forces and grand statements yet he didn’t hesitate to use tenderness when needed.
His enthusiasm caused his hair to fly as he hit the downbeats, which brought smiles to Miller’s face. The orchestra sounded exuberant and the crowd responded with huge cheers and a standing ovation.
Dong Hyek Lim, 32, took on Concerto No. 3 in C minor with a boisterous vigor that rarely slackened. His technique was always brilliant. Sometimes, his tone hardened in the louder passages with almost strident accents, but mellowed in the softer sections.
His style was also highly dramatic. In the first movement’s cadenza, he went from thoughtful to volcanic and the finale was nothing short of fiery. The audience jumped to its feet with loud applause.
One can only imagine what marvels Weiss produced yesterday.
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