Encores at classical music concerts give a soloist, ensemble, or sometimes the whole orchestra a chance to add a little extra delight for the audience — and perhaps show off a little. This year’s Aspen Music Festival had its share of memorable ones. Several soloists and ensembles took the opportunity to surprise and captivate the audience with their encore performances.
On July 2, pianist Daniel Trifonov wowed the crowd with an idiomatically informed performance of George Gershwin’s jazzy “Concerto in F.” But it was his encore that truly stole the show. Trifonov seamlessly transitioned into Debussy’s “Reflets dans l’eau,” creating five minutes of pure bliss.
Maxim Vengerov, a talented violinist, delivered a masterful performance of Mendelssohn concerto on July 7. However, what surprised the audience even more was his encore. Instead of playing alone, Vengerov teamed up with conductor Nicholas McGegan to perform Saint-Saëns’ “Havanaise.” It was a smile-inducing rendition that showcased their remarkable synergy.
The enchanting encore on July 15 came from soprano Renée Fleming and pianist Inon Barnatan. They performed Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are,” a treasure of the American Songbook, allowing Fleming to showcase her jazz voice. Barnatan set a gentle pace, and Fleming finished with a luscious vocal flourish.
Augustin Hadelich, a violinist, stunned the audience on July 18 when he performed alone on stage, unaccompanied. His encore, the Andante from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in A minor, highlighted the marvelous detail in his playing. With a dignified pace, Hadelich brought Bach’s melodic variations and counterpoint to life.
Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride, two exceptional double bassists, delivered a stunning encore during their recital on July 22. Their performance of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” combined Meyer’s classical roots with McBride’s jazz background, resulting in a cool and slinky rendition that put a sensational cap on the evening.
Kelley O’Connor, a mezzo-soprano, and Robert Spano, a pianist, upped the stakes of their recital with a performance of Mahler’s “Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen” on August 2. O’Connor’s lofty serenity and Spano’s skilled piano playing made it an unforgettable moment.
On August 4, saxophonist Steven Banks impressed the audience with his performance of Billy Childs’ concerto. For his encore, Banks applied a stately pace to The Lord’s Prayer on the soprano sax, delivering a soulful yet non-jazzy rendition that showcased his extraordinary command of the instrument.
Michelle Cann, a pianist, added a juicy transcription of Hazel Scott’s boogie-woogie version of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor to her recital on August 7. This addition was a tribute to the women of the Chicago Black Renaissance and highlighted Cann’s versatility.
On August 9, violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Robert Spano performed a lush world premiere by Jonathon Leshnoff before treating the audience to a gorgeous reading of “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera “Thaïs.” Their unhurried performance brought the evening to a peaceful close.
Yefim Bronfman, a renowned pianist, showcased his virtuosity on August 18 with a performance of Schumann’s piano concerto. As an encore, he flexed his musical muscles and delivered an explosive rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude No. 5 in G minor, leaving the audience in awe of his sheer talent.
However, the most perfect encore of the year came at the close of the highly popular concert of John Williams’ film music on July 25. Under conductor Maurice Cohn, the whole orchestra delighted the audience with the addition of the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) from “Star Wars.” It was a fitting end to a memorable evening.
Key Take Away:
– The Aspen Music Festival featured numerous remarkable encores this year, adding a delightful touch to classical concerts.
– Renowned soloists and ensembles surprised and captivated the audience with their encore performances.
– Highlights included Daniel Trifonov’s seamless transition from Gershwin to Debussy, Maxim Vengerov’s collaboration with the orchestra for Saint-Saëns’ “Havanaise,” and Renée Fleming’s mesmerizing jazz voice.
– Other notable encores included Augustin Hadelich’s unaccompanied performance of Bach, Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride’s fusion of classical and jazz, and Michelle Cann’s tribute to the Chicago Black Renaissance.
– The most perfect encore of the year was the orchestra’s addition of the Imperial March from “Star Wars.”