When experienced concertgoers knowingly commit the faux pas of applauding between movements of a concerto, you know that something special has occurred.
Such was the case at a Dakota Valley Symphony concert in February when Eagan resident and pianist Elise Molina concluded the first movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” with a dazzling flourish of technical and dramatic artistry. As the prolonged applause subsided, I thought, “We have a bright new star right here in Dakota County.”
Each movement of this popular concerto has its own challenges. The first, “Allegro con brio,” needs to be a showcase of intense drama. The second, “Largo,” perhaps even more dramatic than the first, must move along rhythmically yet sound improvised. The third, “Rondo – Allegro” is a happy, physically demanding “dance of the fingers” that should evoke feelings of joy.
Molina far exceeded my expectations as she brilliantly met all of the challenges of Beethoven’s masterwork. Her entire musical persona thoroughly delighted and captivated the audience.
Her touch was phenomenal, with excellent balance between melody and harmony. She handled her solos with passion, sensitivity, joy, or poignancy as the music demanded. Her timing was precise as she moved from solo passages to tutti with the orchestra.
In short, Molina is an artist with exceptional aplomb who needs to be heard more frequently at major venues throughout the Twin Cities area and beyond.
Also noteworthy in the February concert was Jeannine Johnson’s soprano solo in Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem.” A highly regarded Minnesota performer and teacher, Johnson demonstrated the stage presence, vocal quality, and experience needed to do justice to Fauré’s gorgeous masterwork.
Jerry Goodrich is a Prior Lake resident.