Concluding its 12-city U.S. tour, the Grammy Award–winning Warsaw Philharmonic played to a packed house at the Granada Theatre on Monday. The orchestra of 110 players opened with German composer Johannes Brahms’s empowering and chaotic Tragic Overture in D minor, giving Santa Barbara a taste of the sheer talent for which it is known.
The second selection, Frédéric Chopin’s heartfelt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, introduced Seong-Jin Cho, 2015’s first-prize winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition. At 22, Cho impressed with passion and skill during Chopin’s moving composition, earning a standing ovation. All attention turned to Cho’s tender solo performance of Claude Debussy’s well-known “Claire de Lune.” With eyes closed, Cho romanced us with raw passion and apparent love for the art of the piano.
A theatrical selection from Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg, Symphony No. 4 in A minor, concluded the evening. The orchestra’s energy was cosmic as it played Weinberg’s high-energy symphony, led by zealous conductor Jacek Kaspszyk in his third year as music director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Having just celebrated the 115th anniversary of its first performance in 1901, the orchestra garnered a standing ovation worth more than 100 years of praise.