The CIM orchestra is the best orchestra of its kind I’ve ever heard. These kids are also on a higher level than a number of professional orchestras I’ve heard. They play together, in tune, and intonation problems are very rare. I’ve never heard Loebel conduct before, but he certainly held them together.
The concert began with Beethoven’s overture from The Creatures of Prometheus ballet, played at a brisk tempo, but lacking in the bombast which characterizes too many Beethoven performances.
Following the overture was Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto, somewhat off the beaten track, performed by soloist Zsolt Bognár. It was appropriate that the concert began with a ballet overture, because there are sections of the concerto which sound balletically inspired. The last movement is a case in point: It begins with a series of declamatory chords followed by a response. Most pianists bang out both parts with the same volume, not so Bognár, who gave these sections contrastingly. Bognár is a rarity among pianists--a virtuoso technique coupled with sensitive musicianship, and more than a dash of imagination. It takes that kind of poetry to make this Concerto work, and not sound like the kind of bombastic hardware Tchaikovsky heard too often in concert halls these days. To say I was impressed is an understatement. So was the audience. It has been years since I heard an audience splitting its palms and cheering for such a prolonged time.
The Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition that followed was well played, but after Bognár’s performance, a bit anticlimactic.