Episode #1935

The MSM Precollege Philharmonic in Concert

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Manhattan School of Music Manhattan School of Music (patling63/flickr)

The Young Artists Showcase heads uptown this week to 122nd Street and a concert from the students of the Precollege Division of Manhattan School of Music.

Led by conductor Jonathan Strasser, the young members of the Precollege Division Philharmonic Orchestra are between 5- and 18-years-old and admitted by audition only. They perform recitals and concerts throughout the year on a startlingly professional level. The concert on this program was recorded this past November at the school's John C. Borden Auditorium.

 The concert opened with the Donna Diana overture, which took host Bob Sherman back to when he was 12-years-old and listening to the radio series Challenge of the Yukon. MSM piano competition winner Wenqiao Jiang took over for Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise. To close out the concert, the Precollege Philharmonic gave a solid performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony.

A tango coda serves as our introduction to violist Born Lau, who will be featured on the Young Artists Showcase on a special day, Friday, March 20 at 9pm.

Program playlist:
Reznicek: Donna Diana overture (excerpt)
— The Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division Philharmonic Orchestra; Jonathan Strasser, conductor.

Chopin: Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise
— Wenqiao Jiang, piano; Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division Philharmonic Orchestra; Jonathan Strasser, conductor.

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3, "Scottish"
— The Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division Philharmonic Orchestra; Jonathan Strasser, conductor.

Efrem Zimbalist: Tango (trans. William Primrose)
— Born Lau, viola; Amy Yang, piano.

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

It's a sheer delight to hear young adults of the pre-college division of MSM playing a varied and interesting program at such a high level. I do, however, wish the Overture to "Donna Diana" could have been heard in its entirety with no talking over it. I, too, not only think of "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon" every time I hear it, but also of the many times I played side 4 --- the Overture only took one side on a 78 --- of the Columbia two-record set that comprised Enesco's "Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1" recorded by Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orch. I, too, am stuck with those extra-musical associations, rather than with that of the man-hating Donna Diana who ends up marrying her suitor. I've nothing but praise for the "Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise" performance and ditto the Mendelssohn Third Symphony. The first movement repeat --- which I think is redundant anyway --- wasn't taken. It seemed to me the dynamics and balance were slightly less than ideal in a couple of tuttis in the last movement. That aside, the 6-8 A major coda, "Allegro maestoso assai" I think was taken at just the right tempo; and Mendelssohn's superscription "marcato assai la melodia" was certainly adhered to. I've never heard Efrem Zimbalist's "Tango" before either in the original or the viola arrangement by William Primrose; and it's a piece I'd enjoy hearing again and again.

Mar. 11 2015 11:19 AM

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