McAdams collaborated with pianist Andrew von Oeyen to execute Samuel Barber’s infrequently performed and nail-bitingly difficult Piano Concerto. The American pianist brought puissant energy to the craggy melodic lines and hammering rhythms that dominate the first movement, as well as pellucid clarity to the dizzyingly fast arpeggiated lines connecting the movement’s various sections.
The contrasting second movement — imbued with the elegiac lyricism for which Barber is best known — provided both soloist and orchestra the opportunity to demonstrate their expressive qualities. Flutist Kristen Halay began the movement with a sensitive delivery of the hauntingly expressive main melody, which von Oeyen then took over with poignancy and penetrating feeling. The rhythmic, frenzied finale is a tour de force for everyone on stage; von Oeyen and the orchestra closed out the concerto with spark and élan.
As an encore, the pianist offered a sublime performance of George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2.