under pressure – part I

well, after 221 years, the oregon symphony finally got around to playing papa haydn’s operatic opener from orfeo and euridice.  ‘twas worth the wait.  short but very sweet, the overture had the energetic force of a popped champagne cork [perhaps a ’96 agrapart & fils blanc de blanc grand cru vintage?] playfully hinting at the wonder on deck: mozart’s piano concerto numero nueve.  but before we get to wolfie, what to say about last night’s guest soloist?!  jeez-oh-man, when mr. garrick ohlsson flips his tails and his tuckus hits the bench, he has this uncanny ability to suddenly transform the 9-foot concert grand into a schoenhut toy piano.  it’s not just his imposing frame or his massive hands or his perfectly trimmed facial hair or his impeccable tuxedo… it’s also the unseen knowledge, tradition, and passion the guy brings with him wherever he performs.  winning first place in a string of international piano competitions since the age of 18 (!), there’s no denying “the pride of white plains” is one of the most distinguished ‘merican classical pianists to ever live.  according to his bio: he has at his command some 80 concertos.  um, that’s seriously like two solid days worth of virtuosic music inside his noggin just waiting to be tapped.  over the past three nights, garrick unleashed some of his mozart for portland audiences, probably convincing more than a few concertgoers that wolfgang’s #9 rightfully deserves to be ranked not only as a hit, but as a smash.  from the eccentric intro to the hypnotic middle to the hook-filled end, this was clearly music composed by a nonconformist genius.  and to witness it performed by another genius?  if you were smart, you were there.

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