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Music

Chamber Orchestra of New York Brings to Life the Works of Strauss & More

Salvatore Di Vittorio

The outstanding musicians of the Chamber Orchestra of New York—composed of remarkably accomplished young professionals—returned to Weill Recital Hall—on the evening of Saturday, December 9th—for a superb concert devoted to music for strings, under the sterling direction of Salvatore Di Vittorio.

The program opened splendidly with a lucid account of Edvard Grieg’s lovely Holberg Suite of 1884, a work of neoclassicism—or more properly, neo-Baroqueavant la lettre and a precursor to modern works like Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin.

The conductor then led the musicians in the world premiere of his own composition, the excellent Preludio Sentimentale, mostly derived from the first movement of his Sinfonia No. 1 for strings from 1999, described as his “first mature, published orchestral work.”

The first half of the concert closed with another crystalline reading, here of the mesmerizing Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis of 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The evening concluded with its most impressive work, an astonishing realization of the magnificent, dazzling Metamorphosen of Richard Strauss from 1945. I look forward to seeing these wonderful artists again in coming appearances.

Forward Festival 2017 Features Acts Young & Old

 

The third edition of the Forward Festival is happening this week on December 7th and 8th at ShapeShifter Lab (18 Whitwell Pl., Brooklyn). Featuring a mix of established and up and coming creative musicians in a showcase of some of the most exciting experimental music happening in NYC today.

The Forward Festival 2017:

  • Daniel Carter
  • Hilliard Greene
  • Federico Ughi
  • Kid Millions
  • Sarah Bernstein
  • Paul Flaherty
  • Matthew Putman
  • Andrew Lamb
  • Warren Smith
  • L’Rain
  • Patrick Holmes
  • Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II
  • A mystery guest guitarist
  • Jimmy Lee
  • Nick Dimopoulos
  • Micah Gaugh
  • Duane Eubanks
  • Greg Lewis
  • Gene Moore
  • Gene Janas

To learn more, go to: http://www.577records.com/forwardfestival/

Forward Festival
December 7 - 8, 2017

ShapeShifter
Lab 18 Whitwell Pl.
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra Delights at Lincoln Center

The new season at Lincoln Center of the excellent Juilliard Orchestra opened auspiciously on the evening of Tuesday, September 5th, at the splendid Alice Tully Hall, with a program where its members played alongside excellent musicians from the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra of Helsinki, under the expert direction of the renowned Esa-Pekka Salonen, in the last of three collaborative concerts with the two ensembles in celebration of the centennial of Finnish independence.

 The unifying thread of the program was, aptly, the music of Jean Sibelius, whose Seventh Symphony influenced the first two works of the concert, beginning with the compelling Radical Light by the eminent, late composer Steven Stucky— who had joined the Juilliard faculty in 2014 —which was notable for its brilliant orchestration and was inspired by a poem by the greatly esteemed A.R. Ammons.
 
Also of interest was the Finnish conductor's own composition, the virtuosic cello concerto,Mania,dazzlingly performed by the Finnish-Dutch soloist, Jonathan Roozeman, who had received his early training at the Academy. He went on to present a delightful encore, the finale of Gaspar Cassadó’s Suite for Cello.
 
It was the second half of the evening, however, that proved to be the most extraordinary. The concluding work on the program was the very seldom performed, complete score of the wonderful Lemminkäinen Suite (Four Legends of the Kalevala)of Sibelius, which left a more vivid impression than anything that had come before. An enormously appreciative audience earned a fabulous encore, the same composer's unutterably lovelyValse Triste,closing an exceptional concert.

Lesser Known Classics at the Mostly Mozart Fest

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

The first program, entitled "The Singing Heart", in this year's Mostly Mozart Festival—which I attended on the evening of Wednesday, July 26th, at David Geffen Hall and which featured the house orchestra confidently conducted by the enthusiastic music director, Louis Langrée—proved to be an unusually memorable one.

The concert opened with the sublime Kyrie, K. 90, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, gorgeously sung by the appealing Young People's Chorus of New York City, under the direction Francisco J. Núñez. This was followed by a splendid account of the first movement of the same composer's excellent "Haffner" Symphony, with some of the movements interrupted by other works sung by the chorus, in accord with the practice of the time. These included the 19th century American hymn, "Hark, I hear the Harps Eternal", and the Brazilian "Three Indigenous Songs of the Kraó Tribe", as much performance art as beautiful music. After the final two movements of the symphony, the chorus performed the powerful black spiritual, "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel".
 
The choral director's enjoyable arrangement of the children's song, "Ah vous dirai-je, maman" was a prelude to the thrilling finale, Ludwig van Beethoven's superb, rarely performed "Choral Fantasy". The Festival Orchestra and the Young People's Chorus were here joined by the fine Concert Chorale of New York —directed by James Bagwell—along with the precocious pianist, Kit Armstrong, and a sextet of wonderful singers: sopranos Janai Brugger and Brandie Sutton, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, tenors Jack Swanson and Miles Mykkanen, and basso Adam Lau. An enthusiastic ovation elicited a magnificent encore, Leonard Bernstein's unforgettable finale to Candide,"Make Our Garden Grow".
 
The first week of the festival concluded with its second house orchestra program on the evening of Saturday, July 29th.
 
A lovely pre-concert recital featured Franz Schubert's lyrical, seldom heard Introduction and Variations on "Trockne Blumen" for flute and piano—based on one of the composer's songs from his extraordinary first cycle, Die schöne Müllerin—here effectively realized by flautist Jasmine Choi, accompanied by Roman Rabinovich.
 
After a brief introduction by guest conductor Edward Gardner, the concert proper began superbly with what proved to be the highlight of the evening: a moving account of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's rarely performed, glorious Masonic Funeral Music in C minor of 1785.
 
Acclaimed soloist Jeremy Denk then took the stage for a solid reading of Ludwig van Beethoven's ubiquitous Piano Concerto No. 4, in which he played the composer's own cadenza, which is standardly heard. Passionate applause was answered by a welcome encore, the exquisite Andante from Mozart's Sonata in C Major, K. 545.
 
The program concluded gracefully with an enjoyable performance of Schubert's lesser known, elegant Symphony No. 5.

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