NEW WORLD SYMPHONY
ALASDAIR NEALE/ ROBERT JOHNSON/ SEBASTIEN GINGRAS/
YUNA LEE/ CIRO FODERE
STRAUSS/ BARBER/ CHAUSSON/ RACHMANINOFF
FIERY SOLOISTS IGNITE CONCERTOS WITH NEW WORLD SYMPHONY
By Lawrence Budmen
Four gifted musicians from the New World Symphony took solo turns at the ensemble’s annual Concerto Showcase on Saturday at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach. Each brought emotional volatility to distinctive scores from the highways and byways of the repertoire.
In Richard Strauss’s Horn Concerto No.2 in E-flat Major, Robert Johnson exhibited a large, evenly produced tonal compass. He was equally at home shaping the elegant legato lines of the Andante con moto or executing the high flying gymnastics of the Rondo finale in this exuberant 1942 opus.
Sebastien Gingras (a student of the eminent pedagogue Laurence Lesser) was undaunted by the challenging pyrotechnics in Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto, combining precise intonation and sweeping musicality. Gingras’ evocation of the Andante sostenuto (a hushed, emotionally charged slow movement in the manner of Barber’s Adagio for S trings) was exquisitely molded. He brought a dark well of tonal beauty and incendiary power to the dramatic finale, dispatching the flashy cadenza with finesse.
Violinist Yuna Lee (who studied with the distinguished virtuoso Cho-Liang Lin) basked in the tempest tossed passions of Ernest Chausson’s Poeme. With virtuosity to burn, Lee offered silvery tone and flaming musicianship in this late romantic vignette. The serene inner glow of the violin’s opening and closing perorations were conveyed with achingly beautiful expressiveness and superb instrumental control. Lee turned Chausson’s violinistic soufflé into a miniature tone poem of dreamy hallucinations.
Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is thrice familiar fare, yet pianist Ciro Fodere’s version was anything but a hackneyed reading of a warhorse. The flowing musicality of his pianism had an almost improvisatory aura. The stark chords of the Dies Irae motif sounded frightening. H is traversal of the famous 18th variation was etched in lyrical poetry. Never lacking for dare devil bravura, Fodere’s high voltage Rachmaninoff performance made many note perfect competition winners’ readings seem tame by comparison.
Principal Guest Conductor Alasdair Neale, a tower of strength on the podium, unleashed vibrant orchestral colors and taut intensity, reinventing Rachmaninoff’s deftly spun variations on Paganini’s 24th Caprice as a romantic symphony for piano and orchestra. Whether illuminating the autumnal grace of Strauss, rhythmic intricacies of Barber or the impassioned Wagnerian romanticism of Chausson, Neale proved a sympathetic collaborator and brilliant orchestral technician.