Orion Weiss – a mastermind with heart and soul

Published 9:22am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

“In the Mists,” one of only three major piano works by Czech composer Leos Janacek (1854-1928), is an intriguing and oddly unsettling four-movement cycle. Orion’s aforementioned reverence for the pitches themselves along with his expert crafting of the character of every single sound resulted in what I consider a definitive performance of this melancholy work

Janacek’s typical folk elements were present melodically along with the light percussive characteristics of his native tongue. The haunting and lyrical andante set a thoughtful tone that underpinned some of the most messy and intense dialogue, but a starkness, accentuated by the placement of silences, was pervasive and slightly chilling.

Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) is surely the best known Czech composer. His “Fantasy and Toccata” is a powerful showpiece that was a fitting end to an absorbing evening. Orion flawlessly and tirelessly unwound this wide-ranging and difficult work. The audience was unusually attentive throughout the evening, so I’m certain I wasn’t the only one surprised to note that two hours had elapsed quickly. A lengthy standing ovation was well deserved.

Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” – the encore dedicated to his brand new daughter – was played with a warmth and tenderness this father deeply comprehends.

Congratulations to Tryon Concert Association for another great season.

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