Saturday's performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was the second time I've had the pleasure to experience the beautiful sounds of the violin played by Nicola Benedetti at Heinz Hall. In March 2011 she performed Poeme for Violin and Orchestra by Ernest Chausson and the Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel. If those seem somewhat obscure, then Saturday's performance of Szymanowski: Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra was perhaps as much or more. Benedetti, at least in Pittsburgh, does not seem to play only the well known repertoire, and has knack for bringing these lesser known works to the audience here, and I admit that I'd never heard any of them before. The beauty of her technique was even more developed than the last time. Her ability to bring perfect pitch to really high notes, and yet expand the dynamic range of the entire instrument was a delight.
At intermission I stopped to get an autograph from Ms. Benedetti, and I asked her the name of the piece she played for an encore. It was slow, sublime and melodic. She said it is on her CD 'Homecoming', called Auld Lang Syne Variations arranged by Petr Limonov.
The conductor I've seen here several times before. He's young and energetic, yet subtle and seamless. In 2012 he lead the PSO in "The Utmost Embodiment and Rhythm of Nature" with Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. In 2010 I first saw him conducting a performance of "The Mermaid" composed by Alexander Zemlinsky described in my post "Vast oceans of harmonic bliss". This Saturday's was just as thrilling. Rachmaninoff's The Isle of the Dead is a journey with many interesting aspects.
As I said, it was a thrilling evening, if you missed it you should make a note not do so the next time. Did I mention the beautiful emerald evening gown she wore for the performance and the contrast to her beautiful long hair?