The Portland Symphony Orchestra opened its 2011-2012 season with three crowd-pleasers, including a work written in 1985 – Michael Torke’s “Bright Blue Music,” which led off a program that included Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (“Emperor”)  and Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E-minor, Op. 98.

“Bright Blue Music” is a cheerful, repetitive piece in D-major, which is related to the color blue. The orchestration is complex, without being particularly skillful, and the traditional tonality leads to a large number of passages familiar to anyone acquainted with the 100 Top Hits of Classical Music. It lasted nine minutes and ended on a solo high note.

Considerably more interesting was pianist Awadagin Pratt’s sometimes quirky but always fascinating interpretation of the Emperor Concerto, which earned a standing ovation that for once was entirely deserved.

Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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