March 9 2012
William Caballero, horn; George Vosburgh, trumpet; Craig Knox, tuba
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
André Previn, conductor
Previn's new Triple Concerto for Horn, Trumpet, Tuba and Orchestra was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony and performed by principal players William Caballero, George Vosburgh and Craig Knox.
The trumpet is the first solo instrument to play in all three movements, followed by the horn. Previn's writing demands the utmost virtuosity but, despite all its rhythmic energy, is often carried by singing qualities.
Vosburgh was the brilliant lead soloist, with a meaty lower register in which Previn often has him dwell, as well as a silvery top end. He phrased the second movement's main theme with exquisite control and sensitivity.
Previn wrote a great if sometimes wickedly challenging part for tuba. It's a real workout in range and tonguing. Knox's big tone in his upper register was beautifully suited to Previn's lyrical writing.
The horn part did not emerge strongly except at a handful of points, which may have been due to seating the soloists right in front of the conductor, rather than behind him at the front of the stage. Caballero played with his customary confidence, accuracy and variety of timbre.
The way Previn weaves the solo parts into a larger symphonic line reminds me that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart called his orchestral work featuring solo violin and viola a "Sinfonia concertante." The range of emotions and moods Previn visits is quite different from Mozart, but the new concerto is one I look forward to hearing again.
Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/03/2012
Most composers would rather sit through a performance of their works sung by the Alvin and the Chipmunks than write a triple concerto, let alone one for horn, trumpet and tuba.
For one, no one has come close to the popularity, grandeur and scope of Beethoven's, so even calling a work by that name is asking for trouble. Then, you are dealing with linking together three instruments that have none of the instrumental rapport of the violin, cello and piano of that standard-bearing work.
Not only did Andre Previn accept that challenge when commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, but also he transformed the genre (if we can call it that).
Friday night, Heinz Hall patrons gave rousing applause to Mr. Previn, who was music director of the PSO from 1976-84. Sitting on a chair on the podium, the nearly 84-year-old faced horn player William Caballero, tuba player Craig Knox and trumpeter George Vosburgh, all principals and virtuosos. The premiere that followed was innovative and tantalizing.
It was essentially a concerto for 20 instruments, but not as a concerto for orchestra or even the ancient concerto grosso.
Mr. Previn called on principals and sections throughout the orchestra for a panoply of soloistic passages and combinations: flute with horn, tuba with oboe, a trombone choir or the low strings by themselves. First desk string playing was matched by the bassoon family on its own. And concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley even had a solo.
In fact, the triplets hardly played with each other at all throughout the three-movement work. And when they did solo, with magnificent tone and remarkable control, Mr. Previn never gave them the full spotlight you began to yearn for. The typical tension of a concerto was brilliantly turned on its head.
Andrew Druckenbrod,, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/03/2012