BWW Review: SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY: LING CONDUCTS PROKOFIEV & DVORÁK at At The Jacobs Music Center
The San Diego Symphony Orchestra's Conductor Laureate Jahja Ling returned again for multiple performances this season. In the first of these he was at the helm for Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from The Snow Maiden, Prokofiev's third piano concerto, and Dvorák's eighth symphony.
Rimsky-Korsakov's suite begins in the mood of an icy Russian winter, but a few bright hopeful bird calls soon hint that Spring is coming. And come it does, announced by an aviary of woodwinds in the second of four short movements. The genial mood continues, reaching a bubbly peak with the closing "Dance of the Tumblers," by far the most often played excerpt from the suite. The woodwind section impressed from beginning to end, and Ling led a well-paced, well-played performance.
The following piece has never been described as "genial." Prokofiev wrote all five of his piano concertos for his own performances, a spectacular display of prodigious technical skill never far from his mind. If such a display was also one of soloist Wei
Luo's objectives, she achieved it with spellbinding authority. Fast tempos and flawless execution made for an exciting performance. A screen above the stage proved riveting as it displayed Luo's wide leaps up and down the keyboard, keys hit crossed handed with surgical precision, and Mach 2 glissandi tossed off with liquid nonchalance. Ling and the orchestra cooperated from the quiet clarinet beginning of the first movement to the ecstatic swirling closing moments of pounding piano against a full orchestra. Luo returned three times to a standing ovation before rewarding the audience with a tender Chopin Nocturne to show she has more than a knockout punch.
The concert continued after intermission with a performance of Dvorák's Symphony No. 8. An uninhibited brass section brought everyone to attention with the opening fanfare and took advantage of each of the work's many opportunities to shine. For this concert Ling moved the cellos from right to center and the basses from right to left. That may have contributed to the warmer than usual sound of the strings in the most beautiful of the symphony's passages. Since retiring as the San Diego Symphony's conductor, Ling's appearances as laureate have seldom strayed from the Romantic repertoire. Dvorák was one of the most melodically fluent geniuses in the history of music, as amply demonstrated in this symphony. Ling is conducting the music he loves most, and it has shown every time.
For information about the rest of the season's programs visit the San Diego Symphony website.
Photos compliments San Diego Symphony.
This concert was presented by the San Diego Symphony at the Jacobs Music Center in San Diego on Saturday, November 8, 2019.