Last-minute pianist was key to fine CSO performance

Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post

Horacio Gutierrez is certainly a fine pianist. But he is also prone to cancellations, as his spotty attendance record in Denver makes all too clear.

When the Colorado Symphony announced last week he would not be able to perform his two concerts this weekend because of illness, it was his third missed engagement here in less than a decade.

Fortunately, though, the orchestra was able to secure the last-minute services of Jon Kimura Parker. And Saturday evening, he brought his reliably high-caliber playing to Ludwig van Beethoven’s well-known Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58.

Parker delivered an anything-but-routine interpretation, suffusing the slow second movement with an unexpected dose of mystery.

He topped off his appearance with a delicately moving version of Edvard Grieg’s Nocturno as an encore.

That was just one of the attractions of this eclectic, slightly overpacked program, which began with the symphony’s first-ever performance of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu’s Symphony No. 1.

This striking 1942 work, which Martinu wrote in the United States, has an unquestionably modern flavor.

If it remains solidly tonal with little of the strident avant gardism of some other composers of that time, it is nonetheless a complex, unconventional piece.

Guest conductor Arild Remmereit gave voice to the symphony’s emotional sweep and revealed the unlikely coherence among its four highly diverse movements. Especially memorable was the thrilling, madcap kineticism of the scherzo and richly evoked harmonies of the haunting third movement.

The Norwegian maestro fittingly ended the concert with a vibrant, full-bore performance of selections from the “Peer Gynt” Suite by Grieg — Norway’s greatest composer.

The concert will be repeated at 2:30 p.m. today.

Read more: Last-minute pianist was key to fine CSO performance – The Denver Post
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