NEW WORLD SYMPHONY
AMERICAN VOICES (1-8-06)
By Lawrence Budmen
The music of William Schuman deserves more frequent performance. One of Schumanís major scores received a welcome revival by the New World Symphony on Sunday afternoon at the Lincoln Theater. A sampling of familiar and rarely heard works by Aaron Copland shared the musical spotlight.
New World conducting fellow Florin Parvulescu opened the program with a ponderous rendition of Coplandís Fanfare for The Common Man. The usually stalwart New World brass sounded ragged and imprecise. Parvulescu also led a beautiful reading of Coplandís evocative Quiet City. Oscar Montoya played the trumpet solos with gleaming tone and eloquent phrasing. Rick Basehoreís haunting English horn solo seemed to define loneliness.
Schumanís Violin Concerto was composed in 1950 for Isaac Stern. This is an awesome work that echoes big band jazz riffs, Alban Bergís moody post-romanticism, and Paul Hindemithís rigorous counterpoint. Astringent dissonance and dark lyricism alternate in this brilliant but pensive score. The bristling orchestral writing highlights rare combinations of solo violin and brass instruments. A cadenza in the first movement must be the most difficult violinistic display this side of Paganini. Gil Shaham was the spectacular soloist. He met the work on its own terms Ė playing with silky transparency and beautifully spun warmth of tone. Shaham turned the craggy fugue in the final Presto into a display of dazzling violin fireworks. Michael Tilson Thomas conducted a taut, hair raising account of this remarkable score. The New Worldís lush strings and bronzed brasses had a field day.
Coplandís dissonant, wildly inspired Dance Symphony was the originally scheduled closing piece on this concert. Instead Tilson Thomas substituted the composerís Symphonic Ode. This 1929 composition is long on rhetorical gestures but does not represent Copland at his best. Yet the genesis of the composerís later works is in this bustling opus. Tilson Thomas clearly believes in this music and conducted it with fervor and energy. Although a relatively minor Copland work, this was an opportunity to hear the less familiar side of an American musical icon
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