Review: Rare outing of Kraft percussion concerto by St. Louis Symphony

Posted on: May 3, 2016

“If you didn’t know it going into Powell Symphony Hall on Saturday night, you knew it as soon as you got a glimpse of the stage,” writes Sarah Bryan Miller in Monday’s (5/2) St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “At house left of music director David Robertson’s podium, in the soloist’s standard spot, was a kind of circular cage. On the floor of the cage were six timpani…. Suspended around the top were eight smaller tenor timpani…. Ranged across the rear of the stage was a battery of other percussion instruments, including another cage arrangement for gongs. The [2005] Timpani Concerto No. 2, ‘The Grand Encounter,’ by William Kraft (b. 1923), calls for a superb timpanist… The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra had him in principal timpani Shannon Wood … He was in nonstop motion … playing, tuning, switching mallets, whirling, making what appeared to be physically impossible moves, in what seemed to be as much a percussion ballet as a concerto…. It was hard to tear the eyes or ears off Wood, but associate principal flute Andrea Kaplan’s authoritative solo in the Epilogue demands mention. Robertson and the orchestra were great partners in a work that demanded complete commitment from all involved.”

Posted May 3, 2016