NEW WORLD SYMPHONY
THE ROMANTIC TRADITION IN CHAMBER MUSIC
LEON KIRCHNER/ BORROMEO STRING QUARTET (1-21-07)
KIRCHNER AND SOLOISTS DISPLAY PASSION, ENERGY
By Lawrence Budmen
Composer Leon Kirchner, the last surviving pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, has synthesized Schoenbergís 12 tone system with Austro-German romanticism to create his own highly personal musical language.
On Sunday Kirchner (who turns 88 this year) took to the stage of the Lincoln Theater to conduct members of the New World Symphony in one of his most ambitious works Ė the Concerto for Violin, Cello, Ten Winds, and Percussion.
In this alternately spiky and sensuous score, Kirchner weaves a tapestry of iridescent timbres with a prominent role for the celeste, acting almost as the contemporary equivalent of the Baroque continuo. (In this performance, the celesteís intoxicating line was realized by an electronic synthesizer.)
Despite the composerís high modernist aesthetic, the score strikes a romantic note in the manner of Alban Berg and the Second Vienesse School.
In two compact movements, Kirchnerís music journeys from emotional tumult to contemplative meditation.
The concerto requires two stellar soloists with technique to burn, and two members of the Borromeo String Quartet proved fervent advocates. Nicholas Kitchen, glowing of tone and passionate of utterance, gave a searing account of the violin solo Cellist Yessun Kim displayed agile virtuosity. The composer led an energetic, authoritative traversal of this rhythmically tricky piece.
Kim and Kitchen were joined by their fellow Bo rromeo players Kristopher Tong (violin) and Mai Motobuchi (viola) and New World Symphony members Christopher Fischer (viola) and Susie Yang (cello) for a transformative performance of Brahmsí Sextet No.2. In this revisionist version, the score emerged as one of Brahmsí richest, most complex chamber works. The scoreís finale prefigures the melodic and fugal invention of Max Reger.
The musiciansí aristocratic shaping of the opening Allegro unfolded with autumnal majesty while the Scherzo had quicksilver lightness and grace An impulsive, tempestuous coda offered a touch of Hungarian- tinged fire.
In the ruminative Adagio, the high string writing was dispatched with silken purity. Motobuchiís meltingly beautiful viola solos were first among equals.
Despite Ciro Fodereís fleet fingered pianism, Schumannís Trio No.1 in D Minor (which opened the program) suffered from instrumental imbalance. Violinist Karen Wyatt and cellist Lars Kirvan slighted Schumannís radiant lyricism.