Sibelius, Shostakovich, Salonen

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Leonidas Kavakos Leonidas Kavakos (Marco Borggreve)

Tune in Wednesday at 9 pm to hear Alan Gilbert conduct the New York Philharmonic in a program of 20th- and 21st-century works. First, he'll be joined by the violin virtuoso, Leonidas Kavakos on Sibelius's Violin Concerto.

Shostakovich's Suite from The Age of Gold, a satirical take on the bourgeois tendencies of Western nations, follows. For a finale, the New York Choral Artists, led by Joseph Flummerfelt, join the philharmonic in Esa-Pekka Salonen's Karawane. In its review of the latter, The New York Times wrote, "The chorus’s hypnotic incantations have the undergirding of a glistening orchestral landscape, sometimes swaying, sometimes blooming."


Conductor: Alan Gilbert
Soloist: Leonidas Kavakos, violin
New York Choral Artists, Joseph Flummerfelt, director

Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Shostakovich: Suite from The Age of Gold
Salonen: Karawane

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

I venture to say that this is one of the stellar achivements of Alan Gilbert's tenure with the orchestra in terms of programming originality and execution of all three works of greatly disparate styles. On the basis of hearing the Sibelius Concerto, Leonidas Kavakos is a master violinist any of whose repertory works I would eagerly attend and/or listen to on the radio. Beginning the Concerto with a bit more languor than Jascha Heifetz's two recordings reveal (with Thomas Beecham and Walter Hendl), the singing line was sustained throughout, be it in the double stops and octaves of the first movement, the entire songful slow movement or the galloping final movement. I don't know who made the violin he plays, but it's a sweet-sounding one indeed. Equal plaudits must go to Alan Gilbert for providing perhaps the best orchestral accompaniment I've heard. His decision to play passages marked p or pp as mf or f brought out detail I've not heard before, from the viola solo accompanying the soloist's half note triplets to the divided strings throughout much of the first movement, to the syncopations in the winds, horns and strings in the second movement, to the simultaneous 8th followed by (2)16th note figuration in the strings against the timpani's 16th followed by (2) 8th note figuration that begins the last movement. The `elan and outrageousness of the Shostakovich "Age of Gold" ballet suite was on full display; and the somewhat unusual scoring for same including a harmonium, baritone horn and soprano saxophone drove the satire home. The Salonen work, "Karawane", offers the composer's gift of creating altered chords that make one want to hear them again and again, along with a similar gift for orchestration. The chorus sounded like it was having a marvellous time. I was reminded to a certain degree of Milhaud's "Les Choe'phores" ("The Libation-Bearers") on occasion (because of the chants against percussion), but the work sounded fresh and compelling. I'd like to hear it again and again. If wishes be facts, I'd like to see the work turn up on a BBC Proms concert, the 2016 season not being too far off as of this writing. I think it would be a sensation for the always receptive and appreciative audiences that attend.

Jun. 12 2016 02:14 PM

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