by Bill Forman
Fresh from his engagement with the New York Philharmonic, pianist Jonathan Biss’ extraordinary soloing was among the highlights of Saturday evening’s performance by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
Another came just prior to the concert, with the announcement of the finalists in the Philharmonic’s music director search, as well as the unveiling of the 2010-2011 season. Especially noteworthy in the latter regard is the inclusion of Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), which will open the new season in September.
Philharmonic President/CEO Nathan Newbrough tells the Indy (in a feature story which will run Thursday) that the work is something current music director Lawrence Leighton Smith has wanted to present since he came here ten years ago.
To say the least, Strauss’ most revered tone poem is an ambitious undertaking. Composed in 1898, the 50-minute through-composed masterwork has lost none of its challenge or impact with the passage of time.
“To this day, I remember the sense of physical shock at hearing this music,” recalled conductor Daniel Barenboim in a 1993 PBS program.
You can whet your appetite for the Philharmonic's season opener by watching this performance of Ein Heldenleben by the Chicago Symphony, with Barenboim conducting: