Sunday, August 3, 2008
Even more impressive, and more auspicious, was Slatkin's collaboration with Lithuanian pianist Muza Rubackyte on Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor.
Rubackyte, a former child prodigy of the erstwhile Soviet Union, is now a fully flowered artist in mid-career. She's a formidable pianist but, more to the point, a commanding and perceptive musician who seemed to breathe as much as play Tchaikovsky's grandiose concerto. I was struck by the authority and confidence expressed by her body English. She was in the stream of the piece first to last. It was very beautiful playing by a pianist who knew exactly what she wanted and why and how to achieve it. Her performance was essentially songful, not wanting in majesty but nuanced as only elegant pianists can manage and only genuinely self-confident ones will dare.
Slatkin had the orchestra right with her, providing both a fluid rhythmic pulse and a symphonic backdrop of plush textures and vivid colors. On a summer's night, this was seriously attentive playing by the DSO.
Lawrence B. Johnson is a Detroit-based cultural writer and critic. You can reach