What a great day (2) 1st February 2015

The next part of my great day was being at Sarasota's "Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall" for a magnificent matinee concert given by the Sarasota Orchestra, under its Musical Director Anu Tali.
It was a truly magnificent concert which began with a work which was probably unknown to just about all the concert goers - in a full house no less -: "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b 1935). Pärt stopped composing when Soviet censors banned some of his music.  He emerged from his silence in 1976 ... using a style he called "tintinnabuli" ... including his Cantus in memory of Britten - characterized by harmonic and rhythmic simplicity  and steady tempos. (Italicised words extracted from yesterday's programme notes).
The piece indeed had rich harmonies  which supported the regular tolling of a bell.  It was good to hear something new.
After something new, we moved to something old,  a stellar performance of Beethoven' s Piano Concerto No. 4. with guest pianist the world renowned Stephen Hough.
This concerto, unlike most, begins not with the orchestra, but with a few bars of solo piano.  As Hough began my eyes grew misty.  Of course I know the piece well, but to hear it in a live performance was "magical".  It was like being with a dear friend with whom you have chatted by 'phone for many years, but now you are face to face.  Same friend - deeper encounter!
And such a great pianist and orchestra.
After Intermission I met another old friend, Elgar's Enigma Variations.  I first met this friend when I was in High School.  I must have heard the work in recordings or on the wireless scores of times, but to see and hear it in performance has an entirely affect on one's soul.  It is to hear notes that had been previously missed; it was to watch the disciplined skill of the musicians; it was to be undistracted by other sights and sounds.
Much of the magnificence of the concert grew out of the superb leadership of Anu Tali, in her first full season as Music Director of the Sarasota Orchestra..  Her conducting style was  for the most part spare and restrained;  but there were moments when she was calling  the cellos and basses to even greater things by her energetic urgings in their direction.  I also liked the moments when she "conducted" by facial expressions. 
Anu Tali (born June 18, 1972) is an Estonian conductor. She and her twin sister Kadri Tali founded the Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra in 1997, with Anu Tali as the orchestra's conductor and Kadri Tali the manager.  (from Wikipedia).
We are most fortunate to have her in Sarasota.
(There was not a spare seat in the 1736 seats Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre).
Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre, designed by William Wesley Peters, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Stephen Hough
Anu Tali

Photographs from Google Images.


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