CSO Presents Valentine's-Themed Concert Featuring Concert Pianist Gabriela MartinezFeb 14, 2020
By Cecilia Whalen
The Charlotte Symphony presented a Valentine's-themed concert at the Knight Theater on Feb. 14, offering a four-piece program featuring works by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Delius, and Beethoven. Music director Christopher Warren-Green conducted this evening of lyricism and romance.
The program opened with Tchaikovsky's lush and tragic Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, the gorgeous and recognizable love theme from which now appears ubiquitously in movies and commercials. This soon transitioned into the main event of the evening: Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor featuring guest pianist Gabriela Martinez.
Martinez played with precision, versatility, and joy. In effect, she danced as she played, and her facial expressions demonstrated a deep connection with her music. She is a truly excellent pianist.
Chopin's concerto is in three movements, beginning with an Allegro, following with a Romanze, and finishing with a Rondo. The music varies from dramatic flairs in the Allegro to a gentle lullaby in the Romanze and playful, laughter-like phrases in the Rondo. Martinez was light and delicate at times, such as in her entrance in the Romanze where notes cascad up and down like a stream over pebbles, and playful and sassy elsewhere, such as in staccato trills of the Rondo. Her use of rubato was deeply expressive without ever being exaggerated, and the orchestra, led by Maestro Warren-Green, moved seamlessly along with her. Her technique was flawless she never missed a note and her dynamics and articulations ranged from delicate to powerful.
The Charlotte Symphony played at its best in this final piece, whereas in the earlier pieces particularly the Tchaikovsky and Delius' "The Walk to the Paradise Garden," from his 1901 A Village Romeo and Juliet there had been moments of inconsistency in timing, ensemble, and intonation. Here, in the Beethoven, the performance was clear and concise. For whatever reason, the orchestra appeared much more comfortable with this final piece and was able to portray its spirit and jovial nature with strength and accuracy. The ensemble will surely be even stronger at the subsequent performances.
I look forward to hearing more of the orchestra's interpretations of Beethoven as we celebrate the composer's 250th anniversary. The CSO will next continue this anniversary recognition with the Missa Solemnis on March 6-7; other concerts of Beethoven will follow.