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A presentation of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra's 2012-13 Masterworks series, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with Daniil Trifonov was an amazing musical adventure featuring an extremely talented young man. Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and César Franck's Psyché were also featured on the program, led by ASO's Music Director and Conductor Daniel Meyer.
The concert began with only the string section on the stage in preparation for Barber's Adagio. From the moment the orchestra began to play, the entire audience was entranced. In a fashion that is to be expected of the ASO, the piece was treated with the utmost care, delicacy, and musicianship. This piece, a known and popular work of Barber (even so far as to get an electronic "cover" courtesy of popular DJ Tiësto), was so wonderfully treated one would think it was the main event of the evening. This performance, due in no small part to the conductor's musical sensitivity, was a spectacular opening to an equally wonderful concert.
The second piece on the first half (which called for the entire ensemble) was the peculiar symphonic poem Psyché¸ by Belgian-turned-French composer César Franck. Inspired by the story of Eros and Psyché from the Metamorphoses of Apuleius (otherwise known as The Golden Ass), this performance was accompanied by local actress Vivian Smith reading lines of the Latin novel between movements in such a way as to be philosophically linked to each movement. This technique proved to be very effective and served to provide some context to the very romantic writing of Franck. Psyché calls for many solos and contains complex melodic lines which the orchestra as a whole handled splendidly with an occasional intonation anomaly being the only noticeable blemish to an otherwise flawless performance.
The second half of the concert consisted solely of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring decorated pianist Daniil Trifonov. At 21 years of age, Russian-born Trifonov has won numerous piano competitions, including the Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel-Aviv and the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Trifonov once again displayed his marvelous skill during his appearance with the ASO, displaying a quiet virtuosity and delicate execution of his art that is simply astounding for any musician, let alone one his age. Handling the ever-changing moods and styles of Tchaikovsky's writing with remarkable care, Trifonov was able to grasp the dramatic and emotional soul of the Concerto, breathing life into every note and phrase as though they were fragile and precious items of the greatest import. The conductor followed Daniil's every gesture, resulting in the orchestra playing perfectly and thus complimenting his remarkable playing. The work features many moments of echoes and conversations between the orchestra and soloist, and the ASO met and complimented Trifonov's dramatic style perfectly.
After the performance, Trifonov and the ASO were given rapturous applause and a standing ovation, prompting Trifonov to take his seat and play two short encores in appreciation. Both the Asheville Symphony and Daniil Trifonov displayed remarkable musicianship and grace throughout the entire evening, delivering yet another wonderful concert to the world.