It is with obvious fanfare that JoAnn Falletta makes an entrance on the grand stags of North America’s concert hall. The dynamic conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic made a splash again last night leading the esteemed orchestra from the state of New York for a winter sojourn in South Florida. Ms. Falletta’s bold and brave guidance of the evening’s musical forays made for a spectacular night of aural and visual pleasure. The 65 years-young conductor completely transfixed the audience last night and helped usher in a dynamic and vibrant evening of musical drama.
Beginning with Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor, the Buffalo Philharmonic showed the nearly-full house of the Kravis Center audience why their reputation as innovative musicians precedes them. The Borodin piece was elegantly forthright and proved the perfect entrance into the epic voyage that was Brahms‘s Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 83, the dramatic and epic heart of the night.
That the Brahms concerto was a testament of endurance and patience was no fault of the able musicians and the scintillatin pianist, Fabio Bidini. Mr. Bidini’s rich and thunderous performances throughout the four segments of the Brahms composition left this review awestruck with its precision and debonair. I say the piece was a test of endurance and patience not because it wasn’t beautiful, for it truly was. The work however did push the limits of attention spans and the stamina of the Buffalo Philharmonic thanks to its near 50-minutes of ebbs and flows, poundings and crescendos, all of which gave the night an operatic feel with the climactic scene taking place just before intermission.
The night’s concluding work by Prokofieve, his Romeo and Juliet, felt like a wonderful denouement, a kind of escape into an afternoon repose and tranquil fantasizing. It was the perfect way to culminate the program after the heaviness of Brahms.
It is a special thing to experience an evening’s musical program that brings pleasure and reverie to both the amateur classical music lover and the ardent professional. In the case of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance last night both aficionados and casual observers came away moved by a powerful force of daring musicianship. This is why you go to the symphony!