|German pianist Alexander Reitenbach|
This is not the TPO’s most stellar season. While the orchestra continues to sound very good, certainly the best Thailand has to offer, it’s annual change of personnel as some student players graduate and are replaced, may have taken an unusually heavy toll this year. The move to the cavernous Prince Mahidol Hall, in which the orchestra’s sound and presence were lost, couldn’t have helped matters. Fortunately, that move has been reversed, and the TPO is now back home at the comfortable and acoustically better music auditorium at the College of Music. But surely, the biggest challenge for the orchestra has been going from a bi-weekly to weekly concert schedule, a frequency not matched by any major orchestra. Something had to give, and in the TPO’s case, gone are the difficult, exciting, mostly major works of such 20th century titans as Shostakovich, Mahler, Bruckner, Roussel, Strauss, a repertory, incidentally, in which the TPO excelled. In its place, we have a surfeit of Beethoven’s easier symphonies, Nos. 1 and 8, Mozart, Borodin’s Symphony No. 2, and the like. Beautiful music, to be sure, but not welcomed as the sole ingredient of a musical diet.
Today’s concert of Schumann and Rachmaninoff was typical of the new look. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of the most frequently played works in the piano canon, and with today’s endless supply of very, very good pianists in this golden age of piano playing, it is impossible to attend a bad performance; but equally as rare is it to hear this work in a new or exciting way. Young German pianist Alexander Reitenbach played well, but his performance did not rise above the routine, which is, perhaps, too much to ask from someone other than a Lugansky, Sudbin, or Grosvenor (roughly, contemporaries of Reitenbach’s). The TPO gave a creditable run through of Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, but conductor Mikulski had no interpretive nuances to offer, although he did keep his troops together throughout.