Show Thief! Conrad Tao runs away with the entire evening at the San Diego Symphony

05.05.15
San Diego Reader

Conrad Tao stole the show twice on Saturday, May 2, at Symphony Hall. He tore the place apart with the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 and then upstaged that monster with the conclusion of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7 as an encore.

It is difficult for a pianist on the world stage to stand out from the pack but Tao does. His playing leaps off the stage and charges down your ears like a conquering army of musical notation.
Shostakovich continues to grow in stature with the San Diego Symphony and on this night his music had pride of place when it came to artistic merit.

I was ready to leave at intermission. There was nothing Carmina Burana could bring that would supersede what Tao did on the piano. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy because, as expected, Carmina Burana was just okay. I should say that had everything to do with the music itself and not as much the performance.
The orchestra was a battle axe. They tore the lid off of Orff’s popular piece. Rhythmically it was tighter than a drum. I’m guessing the rhythms of Carmina Burana felt like a paid vacation after the intensity of Nixon in China.

The Master Chorale was the Master Chorale. That is to say, they are a serviceable group of amateur singers dedicated to singing the great choral masterpieces. The altos had a line that was completely lovely. It was stunning. The tone was warm and the line legato and the pitch true. Bravi, altos.

Read the rest of the review here