Orion Weiss – a mastermind with heart and soul

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

“[One] way to deal with reviews is to make sure that you don’t ever really believe what they say, good or bad. The first will go to your head, and the second will go to your heart. They will both go to your hips. And whatever you do, don’t memorize your reviews, that’s the worst! And don’t paint them on your walls, or cover yourself in review tattoos. And don’t name your kids after words in a review.”

~ Orion Weiss

(blog entry 08/01/2012)

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It was gratifying to hear a fine pianist on J.S. Bach’s natal date and exhilarating to experience rarely heard 20th century works. Orion Weiss chose three composers for his March 21 concert – one from Spain and two from Czechoslovakia – to form a stunning finale to Tryon Concert Association’s 58th season. The 31-year-old pianist has soloed with major American orchestras and performed as recitalist and chamber musician in every recognized venue and festival across the country, often with his wife Anna Polonsky who accompanied clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester in Tryon two years ago.

Enrique Granados (1867-1916), a successful Spanish pianist, is most famous for his fantastic six-movement work “Goyescas.” Colorful and seductive, like the Goya paintings that were its inspiration, the piece requires both sense and sensibility as well as a dramatist’s flair for emphasizing one or the other throughout this long operatic tale. (Granados was later encouraged to expand the piece into an actual opera which premiered in New York in 1916.) As a composer, I was fascinated (and often preoccupied) with Orion’s reverence for the pitches themselves. At times, his carefully engineered presentation of notes as interacting frequencies hinted at an interest in physics which added a beauty all its own. Although many passages were spectacularly moving, the overall presentation would have benefited from a little more overt sensuality. Regardless, Orion’s effective masterminding of such a long, programmatic piece warranted the shouts and lengthy applause that followed.