By Barry Jagoda
The San Diego Symphony provided a splendid showcase for three great artists this past weekend, when visiting Maestro Robert Spano took up the baton to showcase world-class pianist Jorge Osorio in an exquisite performance of Beethoven’s Second Concerto.
Acclaimed Mexican-born Osorio was the star Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, making the Symphony look and sound as particularly impressive as audiences have come expect. What a pleasure, then, for even after a compelling performance of the Beethoven concerto, in an encore, Osorio presented, a warming solo rendition of a short, sweet Brahms Intermezzo.
Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony, himself known for creating warmth among musicians and patrons, took a seat in the center of the Orchestra, becoming part of the impressed and happy audience, to enjoy this magical encore.
Thus three great shining stars: A spectacular guest conductor, a breakthrough work from the great Beethoven and the amazing Osorio, all on stage with the wonderful San Diego Symphony made for an unforgettable concert program at the Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall.
In this context, especially, the Beethoven piece, first begun in 1785 when the composer was still a teenager but not given its premiere for another ten years, seems particularly modern. This makes sense because while, as a young composer, Beethoven had the works of Mozart in mind, he was also establishing himself as a virtuoso pianist. The emphasis in this work is just perfect for a great soloist, a role now most enjoyed worldwide by Osorio.
The entire concert program was brilliantly produced, starting with a piece from American composer Christopher Theofanidis who found “Dreamtime Ancestors,” out of the wilds of Western Australia, an oratorio about Aboriginal creation myths.
An intermission followed the compelling Osorio/Beethoven production, after which Spano directed a roaring treat of Ralph Vaughn Williams Symphony No. 2: A London Symphony. Here is painted a musical portrait, bringing sights, sounds and the character of London Town to a lovely late winter weekend here in San Diego.
Patrons could not help appreciating the presence, sitting front and center, of Joan and Irwin Jacobs, the region’s great philanthropists, enjoying a musical feast in very large part made possible by their contributions over the years to the cultural life of San Diego.
Barry Jagoda, an award-winning broadcast journalist, was special assistant to President Carter for media and public affairs. He is a 1967 graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and lives in La Jolla
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