The article below appeared in the Albuquerque Journal of October 3, 2006.
A year ago, when young Russian pianist Natasha Paremski took the stage of Popejoy Hall to play Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, she virtually exploded onto the keyboard.
Anyone who heard those concerts will not soon forget them, including the NMSO management, who eagerly signed her to another appearance this past weekend.
As much as Paremski demonstrated phenomenal virtuoso technique last time around, it was her lyricism that was continually on display in Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, perhaps his darkest concerto and his first in a minor key.
Paremski was flawless in sustaining rhythmic motion to create drama almost Romantic in feel, fully capturing the power of its tragic character. Interplay between piano and orchestra, as pronounced here as in any classical concerto, was beautifully choreographed. In the final cadenza, she attempted to explore the extremes of dynamic contrast.
There are clearly similarities between Berlioz's Te Deum and his more well-known Requiem. Both are monumental in scope requiring the largest performing ensembles available. Berlioz, ever the mad egomaniac, wanted singers and players numbering in the thousands to perform the work. While there were hardly that many, it would have been difficult to get another person on the stage of Popejoy Hall for this performance. Joining Roger Melone's excellent NMSO Chorus was a children's chorus from a variety of local schools.
From the massive chords that open the work, there can be no doubt of its heroic proportion. Organ and orchestra seemed as if trying to compete for sheer volume of sound. Great masses of sonority are called for from the choruses and indeed throughout the work they sang their collective hearts out.
The Tibi omnes began simply with the organ leading into a soft chorus eventually given motion by undulating strings, creating the feel of a boat sailing blissfully across a placid lake. But the peacefulness was short-lived as the music then exploded.
Tenor Jon Garrison sang an earnest Te ergo
quaesumus, and the long final movement fervently
repeated the line
non confundar in aeternum
(never let me be confounded).
Here was a performance full of grandeur, even mystery, of a a work which must be heard in concert for its full effect.
The above review neglected to credit three critical personnel.