This is a review of a concert which was/is played on Feb. 26, 27 and 28 in Zurich.

Nelson Freire, piano
Stanislav Skrovaczevski, conductor
Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra

Bruckner - Adagio from the String Quintet (arr. for string orchestra by Mr Skrovaczevksi)
Chopin - Piano Concerto no. 2
= Intermission =
Lutoslavski - Concerto for Orchestra

The concert started with the Adagio from Bruckner's String Quintet, arranged for string orchestra. Bruckner, being mainly known for his symphonies, wrote only one chamber work. Although being scored for only five players, the sound is very orchestral and I think that the arrangement for string orchestra suited it well. The string players of the Tonhalle Orchestra did a superb job in conveying the symphonic breath of the Adagio.

Then came Chopin's Piano Concerto no. 2. Nelson Freire was sitting at the piano in a quite calm manner as if it was a grade 1 piece. That kind of seemingly effortless playing allowed him to make his part sound light-hearted, especially in the finale. He presented the second movement not so much as a light romance, but gave it a sense of grandeur.
Mr Skrovaczevksi and the Tonhalle Orchestra provided a very subtle support and colour which is needed to make the soloist stand out. The orchestral introduction of the first movement had a bit too much rubato for my taste though.

The second part of the concert was dedicated to Lutoslavski's wonderful Concerto for Orchestra (in fact it was this piece which made me go to this concert). It calls for large woodwind and brass sections and a large array of percussion. Lutoslavski showed in this work that he was a skilled orchestrator. It is based on Polish folk music which is underlined with chromatic harmonies. The overall sound of the piece is moderately modern, something even the people with a more conservative taste would enjoy. The Tonhalle Orchestra once again presented itself as a first-class orchestra. The woodwind and brass players handled their difficult parts with ease, supported by the strings and percussion.

An interesting concert which fully lived up to my expectations, especially the excellent rendering of the Lutoslavski Concerto. Don't miss it if it's ever played near you, you won't be disappointed.
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