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Top 10 Summer 2023 Aspen Music Festival Encores

Check out the top ten encores from this year's Aspen Music Festival, including stunning performances and surprising collaborations.

Encores are a delightful addition to classical music concerts, giving performers the opportunity to showcase their talent and provide an extra treat for the audience. The Aspen Music Festival of this year had its fair share of memorable encores that left a lasting impression.

One standout moment occurred on July 2, when pianist Daniel Trifonov delivered a captivating performance of George Gershwin's "Concerto in F." As if that wasn't enough, his encore took the audience by surprise as he seamlessly transitioned into Debussy's "Reflets dans l'eau," blending the two styles effortlessly and creating a blissful five minutes of music.

Another exceptional encore took place on July 7, when violinist Maxim Vengerov, accompanied by conductor Nicholas McGegan, performed Saint-Saëns' "Havanaise." It was a rare sight to see a symphony soloist playing an encore with the orchestra, making this performance truly memorable and smile-inducing.

Renée Fleming, a renowned soprano, and Inon Barnatan, a talented pianist, captivated the audience with their mesmerizing encore on July 15. They beautifully rendered Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are," showcasing Fleming's jazz voice and Barnatan's gentle pace, culminating in a luscious vocal flourish.

On July 18, violinist Augustin Hadelich took the stage alone for a recital, delivering an astonishing unaccompanied performance. The encore featured the Andante from Bach's Sonata No. 2 in A minor, highlighting the marvelous detail in Hadelich's playing. The dignified pace allowed Bach's intricate melodic variations and counterpoint to shine freely.

A unique encore occurred on July 22, when double bassists Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride joined forces for a one-on-one recital. Their stunning encore was a cool and slinky rendition of Miles Davis' "All Blues," combining Meyer's classical background with McBride's jazz expertise. It was a sensational conclusion to an evening filled with innovation and virtuosity.

Kelley O'Connor, a mezzo-soprano, and Robert Spano, a pianist, elevated the stakes of their recital on August 2. In addition to a beautiful new piece by Spano, they performed "Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen" from Mahler's Rückert Lieder with lofty serenity, creating a truly transcendent experience.

Saxophonist Steven Banks, known for his exceptional talent, delivered a memorable encore on August 4. After a brilliant performance of Billy Childs' concerto, Banks took a soulful approach to The Lord's Prayer on the soprano saxophone. His extraordinary command of the instrument and the heartfelt rendition made it an unforgettable moment.

Pianist Michelle Cann added a delightful twist to her recital on August 7, focusing on the music of the women of the Chicago Black Renaissance. As an encore, she treated the audience to a juicy transcription of Hazel Scott's boogie-woogie version of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp minor, showcasing her versatility and paying homage to a legendary jazz artist.

On August 9, violinist Gil Shaham and pianist Robert Spano concluded their recital with a beautiful rendition of "Meditation" from Massenet's opera "Thaïs." The duo allowed the music to unfold in an unhurried fashion, creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere to bring the performance to a close.

To contrast with a delightful performance of Schumann's piano concerto on August 18, pianist Yefim Bronfman showcased his virtuosity with an explosive rendition of Rachmaninoff's Prelude No. 5 in G minor. His vigor and grandeur demonstrated sheer mastery of the instrument, leaving the audience breathless.

However, perhaps the most perfect encore of the year occurred on July 25 during a highly popular concert of John Williams' film music. Under the baton of conductor Maurice Cohn, the entire orchestra delighted the audience with an additional gift – the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme) from "Star Wars." This moment was a true highlight, bringing together the magic of film and the power of live orchestral performance.

The Aspen Music Festival of this year showcased a plethora of exceptional encores, each leaving a lasting impression on the audience. From seamless transitions between musical styles to innovative collaborations and breathtaking virtuosity, these encores added an extra layer of joy and excitement to the classical music experience.

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