NEW WORLD PLAYERS SHINE IN SOLO SPOTLIGHT (2/26/05)

By Lawrence Budmen

Members of the New World Symphony took center stage Saturday night at Miami Beach's Lincoln Theater in an unusual potpourri of concertos by Mozart, Richard Strauss, Bela Bartok, and Georges Bizet via Hollywood. The New World's Principal Guest Conductor Alasdair Neale led a varied program that gave the orchestra's oboe and French horn players a rare opportunity to shine in the solo spotlight. Two members of the ensemble's stellar violin section gave pyrotechnical displays that spelled "star quality."

Dwight Parry opened the evening with Strauss's Oboe Concerto in D Major, Opus 144. Parry's rich tone and elegantly sculpted phrasing riveted attention in the opening Allegro moderato. He imbued the slow movement with a meltingly beautiful legato line that illuminated the autumnal serenity of Strauss's late score. The brio and Úlan that Parry displayed in the rondo finale had the fizz of sparkling champagne. 

Fritz Foss brought an idiomatic affinity to the rococo elegance of Mozart's Horn Concerto No.2 in E-flat Major, K. 417. For all of his stylish musicality, Foss lacked a rounded tonal focus and had problems with articulation in the high lying trills of the instrument's upper register. 

For the 1947 film Humoresque Franz Waxman, a Hollywood stalwart, concocted a Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra based on themes from Bizet's opera. Far more difficult than Sarasate's familiar version, Waxman's score was a favorite virtuoso vehicle for Jascha Heifetz. Violinist Yuko Uchiyama conquered the music's fiendish challenges with flying colors. Her burnished rubato in the insinuating Habanera and the devil may care ease with which she dispatched the double and triple stops of the Gypsy Dance brought the audience to its feet. 

The transparency and dizzying lightness that violinist Daniel Carlson brought to Bartok's Violin Concerto made the music sound new and freshly minted. Long associated with the late Yehudi Menuhin, this concerto is often played in a heavy handed, pseudo Gypsy manner. Carlson essayed the score with Mozartean classicism and finely spun tone. Neale subtly highlighted the inner voices of Bartok's orchestral fabric. Carlson's brilliant performance was a vivid reminder that NWS musicians are top graduates of the world's leading conservatories. 

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