Choin's Concerto in F minor with Alabama Symphony Orchestra (Conductor: Maximiano Valdes) @Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center, Birmingham.
By Michael Huebner
dynamic young pianist star in inspired Alabama Symphony concert
For Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, Valdés yielded the spotlight to the dynamic young Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, whose career is soaring in the wake of competition victories and a prestigious recording contract. The concerto is notoriously bland in its orchestral accompaniment, and until Blechacz's entry about three minutes into the piece, the orchestra was more prosaic than brilliant. Blechacz, an impetuous virtuoso, jump-started the work with fire and flash, Valdés and company at times left in the wake of Blechacz's blazing technique.
With the Larghetto movement came an about face, Blechacz continuing to provide a radiant sheen, dreamy lyricism, and cascading turns, scales and trills. The orchestra responded with a lustrous backdrop. The Allegro Vivace finale sparkled with grace, wit and buoyancy, Blechacz picking up the pace with a dazzling display of chromatic scales and arpeggios.
Blechacz acknowledged the standing ovation with an encore, Chopin's short but sweet Prelude in A major.