Table of Contents
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Members & Their Personal Recommendations for the New Season
- Sudoku Puzzle
- Recipe: Turkey Sausage Patties
I had the opportunity to mingle with six members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at a fund-raising event. I had a hard copy of the 2017/2018 schedule, and I was curious about their personal reactions to the upcoming concerts. PSO performers truly have a passion for what they do, and all were quite pleased with the selections for the season as well as the quality of the soloists. But, looking for a bit more of a personal touch, I asked each of them to circle or initial their favorite upcoming concerts. All have given me unrestricted permission to publish their preferences. To be fair, they didn’t have a lot of time to look at the entire list (and some of them knew that I prefer concertos over symphonies), and whether or not this influences their opinions, they either play the violin or the viola.
To satisfy your curiosity, I have charted their recommendations and mine, below. But, I also wanted to share this tidbit of conversation.
When discussing the January 26th concert with Christopher Wu, I made the mistake of mentioning that I will be delighted to hear Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, but I would likely leave early to skip the Mahler. He covered his ears and said, “I didn’t just ear that.” I am sure he thought I was a philistine.
Listening repeatedly to pieces develops my appreciation, and truthfully, I never gave Mahler a chance. When I was a kid, I used to go to Carnegie Library and borrow classical music albums—remember those heavy vinyl discs—and I would listen to them for hours. Often the first time, not only did I not love the piece, I didn’t even like it, particularly the more modern pieces. But after listening to the same compositions multiple times, I grew to love them. Generally, I wasn’t trying to be adventurous. I would pick some of the standards in the repertoire, and to this day, they remain my favorite pieces. Now, after years of listening, however, I am inspired to spend more time listening to pieces that I don’t know well.
Of course, classical music was an extremely important part of my late mother’s life, both performing and appreciating. Some other child might have rebelled and only listened to Rock n’ Roll, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, classical music became an important bond between my mom and me. For many years, we attended the symphony together, and we always gravitated to the same concert preferences. After she passed, I continued going, most of the time by myself (my wife is less enamored with classical music).
We loved the Romantic composers especially Brahms, Chopin, Dvorak, Verdi and many more. She also loved the concerto form, whether it was for the violin, cello, or piano. Of course, we also loved music from different eras. She called Beethoven the bridge between the classical era and the romantic era. Bach, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Prokofiev, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein…we loved them all. She swooned at Rachmaninoff, whom she saw in person at the old Syria Mosque—such a great venue. If she read this list, she would add many composers. There are so many great composers, enough to accommodate everyone’s taste.
I have been known to just go to hear what I wanted to hear and leave…hence the Mahler gaff. I have also been known to go on Friday night, and if I like the concert enough, attend again on Sunday afternoon. So, when you see my initials on the chart, I am endorsing my favorite pieces, not the entire concert.
I feel compelled to comment on the consistently negative reviews the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives to so many performances. I’m not sure what prompts the negativity. We have a world-class orchestra, we bring in world-class soloists, and our orchestra is led by a world-class conductor. We are blessed to have many musicians who have enough talent to be soloists, but who prefer the stability of living in one city rather than being on the road their entire lives. Our city loves their orchestra as demonstrated by our attendance, our frequent thunderous standing ovations and our financial support. Of course the orchestra, like all major orchestras, has significant financial problems. I stepped-up my support this year, and they have matching program going on right now. The $1,500 level gives you entry into such opportunities like the donor-only events where I had the opportunity to talk with all the musicians as well as access to the PSO’s Encore Lounge open during intermission of all BNY Mellon Grand Classics concerts. I am pleased to report I saw a number of clients there.
I will leave you with one magical moment that I experienced at a concert. Mstislav Rostropovich, the great cellist, performed a magnificent rendition of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. Of course he received a thunderous standing ovation. He came out for an encore. He asked that in memory of the people who died in the September 11th attack that no one clap when he finished the encore. He played Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. When he finished, not one person clapped, but everyone in Heinz Hall stood up and gave him a silent standing ovation, something I had never seen before. He brought tears to my eyes, and it was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life.
Finally, if you are planning to attend any of the concerts marked with a “Recommended by James Lange,” please let me know. Maybe we can get a group together and have dinner, on me, before the concert.
Photo Credits for Musicians’ Portraits on the front cover and above:
Emanuel Ax by Marie Mazzucco; Alisa Weilerstein by Harald Hoffman; Igor Levit by
Felix Broede; Noa Wildschut by Alexander van den Tol; Craig Knox and Cynthia Busch
by Rob Davidson. Other PSO musicians’ portraits by Peter Khan.
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon avocado or grapeseed oil
2 cups fresh berries
In a bowl, combine ground turkey and all of the spices, and black pepper. Use your hands to combine the mixture, making sure the spices are well mixed into the ground turkey. Form the meat into 8 equal-size patties.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté the patties until brown on both sides and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, using a heat-safe spatula to press down and flatten the patties a few times as they cook. Check to make sure the turkey is fully cooked by cutting in the center of one patty (no pink should remain) or checking that the internal temperature measures 165°F.
Serve 2 patties with ½ cup berries.