by Mark Gresham | 16 NOV 2016On Tuesday, November 15, the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra performed a concert of music by Wagner, Brahms and Grieg, led by DSO music director Fyodor Cherniavsky, with pianist Julie Coucheron as featured solo artist. The concert took place at the Marvin Cole Auditorium on Georgia State University’s Perimeter College Clarkston Campus.
The featured work, and final, of the evening was Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. It is that work which is the object of this brief review. Currently on the faculty of Kennesaw State University, northwest of Atlanta, pianist Julie Coucheron is well known by area audiences for her exquisite solo, duo and chamber music performances. She has performed in concert to audiences world-wide. Nevertheless, this was the first time Ms Couchron has performed a piano concerto with an Atlanta area orchestra.
When the overly-famous opening of Grieg’s concerto is performed with genuine character, as it was Tuesday night, you know it bodes extremely well for the rest of the concerto Coucheron did not disappoint with her well-stenciled, bold, yet often singingly lyrical performance. It was especially good to hear a native Norwegian pianist offer intuitive insight into the style of the rural halling folk-dance which inspired the concerto’s final movement. Too often it gets played with a kind of Hungarian gypsy flavor as if conjured by Brahms. Hearing the difference under Coucheron’s hands was a delight.
It was also the finest playing of the evening by Cherniavsky and the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, which had offered up Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin and the Symphony No. 2 of Johannes Brahms in the first half of the program Cherniavsky proved an able accompanist in the Grieg, drawing the best from his orchestra in the collaboration with Coucheron. •