Recent News
12.12.18
Keith Lockhart
KEITH LOCKHART JOINS THE ROSTER
12.10.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Classical Album of the Week: Vienna Boys Choir Sings Strauss
WRTI
12.07.18
JoAnn Falletta, Mariss Jansons, David Alan Miller, Peter Oundjian, Patrick Summers, Alexandre Tharaud, Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider , Mason Bates, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Academy of St Martin in the Fields , Les Violons du Roy , Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nathan Gunn
2019 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
12.07.18
New York Philharmonic String Quartet , Yefim Bronfman
Bronfman, NY Philharmonic Quartet impress at Linton Series
Cincinnati Business Courier
12.06.18
Julian Wachner
This Is the Best ‘Messiah’ in New York
The New York Times
12.04.18
Sir Andrew Davis
ELGAR The Music Makers. The Spirit of England (Davis)
Gramophone
12.03.18
Chanticleer
Chanticleer Christmas concert, 11/30/18
Divamensch
12.01.18
Ward Stare
Twin pianists deliver impeccable style in ‘Perfect Pairs’ concert
Sarasota Herald Tribune
11.27.18
Richard Kaufman
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME
Broadway World
11.26.18
Twyla Tharp Dance
Dreaming of Dancing With Twyla Tharp
Next Avenue

News archive »

Guest pianist shows prowess with Brahms

11.06.09
Jonathan Biss
Deseret News

By Edward Reichel

There are only two works on the Utah Symphony's all-Brahms program this weekend, but these two are giants: the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor and the Symphony No. 4 in E minor.

Pinchas Zukerman is this weekend's guest conductor, returning to Abravanel Hall after a lengthy absence. With him is Jonathan Biss, a young pianist with whom he has collaborated numerous times over the years, both on the podium and as a fellow chamber musician.

Brahms' First Piano Concerto takes a pianist of stature and talent to make it work, and Biss managed it — and quite impressively at that.

The son of violinist Miriam Fried and violinist/violist Paul Biss, Jonathan Biss is making quite a splash on the musical scene these days, both in the United States and in Europe. And with these concerts, he's finally making his local debut.

At Friday's performance, Biss showed his remarkable technique and amazing musicality as he delved into the emotional outpourings of this large-scale work. And it was absolutely wonderful, especially coming from someone so young.

His perusal of the D minor Concerto Friday equaled that of Horacio Gutierrez's when he played it with the Utah Symphony a few years back. It was as powerful and mesmerizing.

The opening movement was charged with electricity as Biss dove into it after the lengthy orchestral introduction and captured its drama and passion. It was wonderfully crafted and executed and played with near flawless articulation.

Zukerman's accompaniment was also well crafted, but at times balance was a problem between the orchestra and soloist and between sections of the orchestra. Fortunately, that wasn't an issue in the other two movements.

The slow movement was poetic and eloquently phrased. Biss brought a touch of wistfulness to it that was mirrored in the orchestra, and both he and the orchestra captured the lyricism of the music with their fluid and expressive playing.

The finale was bold but tempered with finely molded lyricism, and both Biss and the orchestra brought vibrancy and a nice robustness to their playing.

The Fourth Symphony is actually a good companion piece to the much earlier D minor Concerto. They balance each other nicely if well played. That, however, wasn't always the case with the symphony. Zukerman obviously favors fast tempos in this work, but that isn't necessarily advantageous to the music. And in this case, the piece frequently sounded rushed. There were also no nuances in his interpretation. The entire work came across one-dimensional, unpolished and rough around the edges.

He did, however, elicit some nice playing from the strings, and the horns gave a rock-solid performance.