The weather might have been cold Saturday night, but the Albany Symphony Orchestra was cooking inside the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall with a program that wowed the capacity crowd.
With music director David Alan Miller at the helm, they began with Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta,” a colorful, romantically lyrical work inspired by Hungarian folk dances. The strings were lush, the orchestra’s tone was robust, and the tempos swayed with a flavorful rubato or flew like lightning. The orchestra, especially the strings, sparkled.
Soprano Talise Trevigne was the impressive and enchanting soloist in Christopher Rouse’s “Kabir Padavali” (1998). Based on six of Kabir’s 15th century poems and sung in Hindi, Trevigne displayed an agile, supple voice over an extensive range in abstract lines of much difficulty. Rouse left plenty of room for her to maneuver even as the orchestral score was complex, colorful, and rhythmically and harmonically multi-layered. The addition of several types of Chinese cymbals and gongs, maracas, and various chimes to the percussion sounds as well as the use of accordion added to the exotic palette.
Rouse had told the crowd the work was a labor of love and that Kabir’s poems were rich, mystical, sensuous and angry, among other aspects. His music reflected that and, fortunately, Miller gave the crowd signposts to recognize when each song began.
The orchestra sounded sensational and the use of offstage small groupings of instrumentalists lent an even greater air of mystery. Although the work began with a blast of sound, it ended with Trevigne humming to offstage timpani. The crowd seemed to like the piece and clapped enthusiastically.
Of a more prosaic and familiar nature was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major with the fabulous pianist Yefim Bronfman in command. He established his tone immediately with vigorous statements, brilliantly fluid and even scales and a range of dynamics that were as subtle as his tone colors.
Sunny streams of notes, declamatory and weighted chords and clear phrasing were hallmarks of the first movement. The second was a lullabye of sheer poetry, which progressed unforced into the bravura finale. Bronfman was a bon vivant and made the piano ring. The crowd wanted more and got Chopin’s Etude, Op. 10, No. 8, which Bronfman played with a fluid alacrity, marvelous tenderness and a singing line.
The concert is repeated at 3 p.m. Sunday.