Music Review: VSO season finale a real showcaseBy Jim Lowe
Staff Writer | May 07,2013BURLINGTON — The Vermont Symphony Orchestra closed its 2012-2013 Masterworks season Saturday at the Flynn Center with a pretty spectacular showcase of itself — and a 24-year-old virtuoso pianist.
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in d minor, Opus 30, celebrated in the hit film “Shine,” is considered the most difficult and virtuosic concerto in the piano repertoire. Although not a musical masterpiece, in the right hands it can be rewarding and truly exciting — and Natasha Paremski has the right hands.
The Russian-born American pianist delivered a bravura performance of this massive (and overlong) concerto. Not only did she perform the virtuoso passages with fiery passion — and accurately — she imbued the poetic moments with an unusually sensitive lyricism. It ended with the audience immediately jumping to its feet with well-justified enthusiasm.
Music Director Jaime Laredo and the VSO also delivered the score’s rich colors and passion beautifully, but it was a true masterpiece that showcased the orchestra itself. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” Opus 35, is full of the exoticism of its origin, “The Thousand Nights and a Night,” popularly known as “The Arabian Nights” — all told through one of the most colorful scores of all time.
Laredo and the members of the VSO delivered a spirited and impassioned performance. Textural clarity allowed the various themes to unfold and regroup, all while the drama developed and receded, telling these exotic stories.
There was an incredible amount of solo work, most notably the violin in the role of Scheherazade. Concertmaster Katherine Winterstein performed the part with flair, a warm and beautiful sound, as well as passion and finesse. Plenty of other solos, in the winds and strings, fared as well.
No, it wasn’t perfect. But this performance of a real orchestral virtuoso showpiece received a performance by the VSO in its largest incarnation in recent years — 67 players — that sounded just brilliant.
VERMONT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
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