Oregon Symphony review: Collaboration with pianist Jon Kimura Parker well worth checking out

REVIEW | 9.23.2012 | by James McQuillen | The Oregonian

Pianist Jon Kimura Parker brough power, drama and bright energy to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 over the weekend. Photo credit: Maurice J. Beznos

The Oregon Symphony had pianist Jon Kimura Parker back in town to help kick off its subscription season over the weekend, and while Carlos Kalmar and the orchestra played gracious host to their guest while he was at the keyboard, they reserved a fair bit of the evening’s limelight for themselves. A favorite of Portland audiences and a genial presence on stage, Parker offered a crystalline performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, with power and drama suited to the music’s minor mood and frequent storminess but also with effortless bright energy in its virtuosic solo part. As is often the case with his most intensely dramatic music (parts of “Don Giovanni,” for example, which share the concerto’s D minor modality), Mozart conveyed emotion and drama while also drawing you to how brilliantly he himself was pulling the whole thing off. Parker’s fleet runs, pristine ornaments and magnificent cadenzas gave the same sense; however portentous the material, the playing was still a joy. Balance was nicely modulated, both between soloist and ensemble (though orchestral swells threatened to swamp the piano at times) and between Parker’s hands. In the concerto as well as in the encore, Mozart’s Rondo “alla Turca,” even the simplest figures in the left hand emerged clearly again the densest textures in the right. Kalmar led the orchestra in gracious, responsive and carefully shaped accompaniment.


"Fantasy is not just a technical showcase, but a big, clear picture window of a musician with a rich soul and great artistic depth. It is also a fantastic example of programming that entertains as well as edifies.”
-Musical Toronto

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