Beethoven, Korngold and Nielsen

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Thursday, April 03, 2014

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert leads the orchestra in Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture; Korngold’s Violin Concerto, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos; Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia espansiva, with soprano Erin Morley and baritone Joshua Hopkins; and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments.

Program details:

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture

Korngold: Violin Concerto

Nielsen: Symphony No. 3, Sinfonia Espansiva

Nielsen: Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

This is another completely satisfying program from the standpoints of program-building and execution. I would have hoped for more intense vibrato and attack on the opening two-bar C's played by the srings in the "Coriolanus" Overture and the following F,C and A that complete the main motive: more ferocity, as it were, but that aside, a satisfying revelation of the music as a whole, not to mention the timpani, making the fortissimos just that. Since the Korngold Violin Concerto is not public domain in the U.S.A,so I don't have a score as a reference, but I do have the Heifetz-Wallenstein-Los Angeles philharmonic recording for RCA Victor as one. Mr. Kavakos clearly feels for this music; and the Orchestra and Mr. Gilbert are clearly of the same mind. The beauty and romanticism of the opening movement, "Moderato nobile", permeated it through the harmonic wonders and felicities that are Korngold's alone. The second movement, "Romance", had the elegiac feel throughout and the deft orchestration, including celeste flecks of sound on top of the harmony, were mesmerizing. The final movement, "Allegro assai vivace", had the technical flights of fancy and inspiration blazingly clear; and the star-spangled finale capped the entire work's inspiration, the reaction to which was a thunderous applause. The "Sinfonia Espansiva", a momument in Nielsen's symphonic edifices, was given its due measure of commitment and mastery from the opening movement' "Allegro espansivo", (3-4, d minor) that may have as its model the first movement of Beethoven's "Eroica Symphony (though in a different key), was rhythmically vital in the syncopations and long-lined in its phrasing. The second movement "Andante Pastorale" 3-4, C major, was quiet and pastoral and so aided and abetted by the wordless soprano and baritone intoning "Ah's" on their notes, provided by Ms. Morley and Mr. Hopkins. (The score indicates that a solo clarinet and trombone can take the abovementioned's parts if singers are not available). The contrabasses aree instructed to tune their lowest E string down to E-flat for the reprise of the theme accompanying the vocalise in the key of E-flat. The third movement, "Allegretto un poco" (2-4, C-sharp minor) was more a short rhapsody than a scherzo to my sensibility, highlighted by interesting woodwind solos. The final movement "Allegro" (D major, Alla breve), has as its main subject a theme that makes me think of a processional, such is the dignity and majesty of it. (If Elgar wrote it, he would have written "nobilmente" as he often did). That speculation aside, the tempo was not hurried. The violins are instructed to play the theme on their lowest string; and the decision to play the recapitulation faster than the tempo marking seemed convincing by contrast; and the "poco ritard" before the concluding bars made the conclusion a declaration of conviction. The Second Symphony I've previously written about.

Apr. 06 2014 05:33 PM

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