Review: St. Louis Symphony premieres Ben Folds piano concerto

Posted on: April 14, 2014

“ ‘Orchestras do rock,’ Ben Folds said toward the end of his performance with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall on Saturday night. But by that time, he’d already spent the better part of two hours proving that,” writes Daniel Durchholz in Sunday’s (4/13) St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri). “Folds, who sang and played piano … was able to use the SLSO to access his music’s subtleties and nuances, and not simply add bombast [led] by conductor Steven Jarvi.… The centerpiece of the concert’s first half was Folds’ newly written piano concerto … [which] draws on Folds’ pop sensibilities while also offering an opportunity to show off his digital dexterity: clearly, he’s been practicing. And it was well-received…. Folds tried something even more audacious during the concert’s second half. ‘You guys wanna make up a song?’ he asked the orchestra. From there, he started calling out sections and giving instructions. He gave the French horns some notes to play and added, ‘Decide among yourselves how to phrase it.’ … When the entire orchestra was engaged—and, yes, rocking—Folds improvised some lyrics. … The piece earned a well-deserved standing ovation and plenty of smiles from the orchestra as well.”

Posted April 14, 2014