Guest pianist Nikolai Lugansky emerged during the second half of the program to dazzle the audience with Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic piano concerto. Last heard on the ASO stage in a 2016 performance by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who is also featured on an ASO recording of the concerto, the Rachmaninoff piece is replete with solo piano fireworks and finger-tangling sequences of notes that require technical precision and more than a little showmanship. Lugansky didn’t disappoint.
Occasionally, the pianist flirted with pushing the tempo by gliding through a few babbling-brook runs with lightning speed, while the orchestra also drowned out his playing in spots. But in the end, Lugansky’s energetic playing and faultless technique earned an intense, prolonged ovation from the Valentine’s Day crowd.
Although classical musicians read from printed music and and it’s perceived that the players lack interpretive musical freedom, myriad factors make each concert wholly unique. These shifts start with the conductor, as every conductor has his or her own beliefs about how the music should be performed. And while it’s sometimes difficult to hear these changes in approach, ASO guest conductors routinely invite the audience to hear well-worn classics with new ears. Mulligan is no different. The assistant conductor arrived at the ASO in the summer of 2017, and two years later, it’s wonderful to continue to hear his perspective on hallmarks of the classical repertoire.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
8 p.m. Feb. 14. Additional performance at 8 p.m. Feb. 16. Sold out. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, atlantasymphony.org.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Check out all the great things to do in Atlanta this week! Hot air balloon rides in Piedmont Park, Mardi Gras Streetcar Adventure, and more!