By James Hogan
Two weeks, two concerts. Two soloists, two guest conductors, two atmospheres. The players on stage were the same, but many things changed this week as Rossen Milanov took the Charlotte Symphony podium as the final guest conductor of the season.
Milanov was quite a character. He appeared onstage sans typical tuxedo tails, preferring instead a sober outfit that seemed one white collar away from priestly garments. And his style…like clockwork. (I was going to say metronomical, but that would have been obvious.) Stiff, precise, formal, yet energetic, he pushed the orchestra through each selection; it wasn’t until Rachmaninoff’s “Isle of the Dead” was finished that he turned around, his face betraying a deep emotional attachment that wasn’t seen after other selections.
Good thing Milanov was, for the most part, reserved–guest pianist Andre Watts crowded the stage with his titanic undertaking of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Intricate and filled with more trills and runs than a game of Chutes and Ladders, the concerto required a good deal of endurance. Watts laid the piece flat. Tapping his leather-soled shoes along at times, audibly singing along at others, this piano rock star was the highlight of the show.
This was the last performance under a guest conductor, and I regret that I was only able to see two of the eight–Christopher Warren-Green and Rossen Milanov. The programs at both concerts included a feedback form, asking the audience’s feedback, but I wanted to extend to you an opportunity to share your thoughts.
Which conductor did you enjoy more? Which conductor might make a better fit for the Charlotte Symphony?