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Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: From Poland with Love
Buffalo, New York
Saturday, 23 October 2010 - 8:00 PM
Sunday, 24 October 2010 - 2:30 PM
Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
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musiclvr
musiclvr 7:20 AM - 28 Oct 2010 | Applause: 0
No, the Buffalo News reviewer is incorrect. Pianist Berenika did not stop during her performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 on Saturday, October 23. She was signaled to stop by a truly unprofessional waving gesture by conductor, JoAnn Falletta. Falletta treated the performance on October 23 in front of a large audience at Kleinhan's as if it was a rehearsal. The common adage among musicians: "Don't stop in performance, keep going, no matter what" certainly was not adhered to here. And, Falletta's leaning over to give the soloist a glimpse of the printed score added insult to injury. What percentage of the audience would have noticed anything had gone wrong if Falletta had not telegraphed that there was a problem by her shocking on-stage behavior?

The orchestra was not together with pianist Berenika from the beginning of the third movement. (There were also some sloppy sixteenth-note motifs on the orchestra's part during the first movement.) Maybe the orchestra's refusal to adjust during the third movement rattled pianist, Berenika, since it seems that conductor JoAnn Falletta does not realize that in a concerto, the soloist is the star and the orchestra is the accompanist; orchestra must follow pianist, not vice versa. And, a conductor certainly does not ever order a soloist to cease playing. Also, one of truly great conductors would have quickly deduced where pianist Berenika had jumped to musically and picked it up from there. Especially since Chopin's orchestral accompanist to the third movement in this concerto is essentially a simple chordal accompaniment of whole and half notes - not much to it, if the score is known inside-out the conductor. The last movement also sounded under-rehearsed from the get-go, compared to the previous two.

The first and second movements of the Chopin Concerto were amazing performances on Berenika's part: flawless technique and execution with a remarkable range of dynamics, especially a very controlled pianissimo that she was easily able to fluctuate gradually at will. On the other hand, Berenika's glassy pianissimos were not responded to in-kind by conductor, JoAnn Falletta. The orchestra did not adjust dynamically to the pianist during a great deal of passages. Does the BPO know only one dynamic, loud?

I don't understand the News reviewer's remark about Berenika visually "reveling in" the piece. I thought any physical gestures on her part were quite restrained. Not mentioned in the News review was Berenika's encore of Chopin's Revolutionary Etude. Berenika's performance of this solo piano piece was a brilliant, first-rate performance. Striking were her ominous, quiet, left hand rumblings; yet with clarity in every note. Lastly, it is quite an arrogant stance on the News reviewer's part that Berenika would need to "redeem" herself for him, or anyone else for that matter, in a future performance of this work.

Absent without explanation from the originally planned-for program on Saturday was the Symphonic Poem A Sad Tale by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz. Was it removed due to lack of preparation? Had one come specifically to hear this work they would have been sorely disappointed. This happened to me last season when a planned-for, and advertised, work by Samuel Barber disappeared from the BPOs program. But, Saturdays concert was cleverly made to seem full-length by lengthening the intermission.

The BPO lost this long-time patron and his guest after witnessing this amateurish debacle.



Posted by: Jeff Jeckovich, Niagara Falls on Tue Oct 26,2010 at 11:14 am

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musiclvr No, the Buffalo News reviewer is incorrect. Pianist Berenika did not stop during her performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 on Saturday, October 23. She was signaled to stop by a truly unprofessional waving gesture by conductor, JoAnn Fallet... read more
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