Avery Fisher Hall at
Overture to Candide (1956) by Bernstein (1918-90).
Concerto in E-flat, “Dumbarton Oaks” (1937-38) by Stravinsky (1882-1971).
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 211 (1775) by Mozart (1756-91).
Violin Concerto in D (1931) by Stranvinsky.
Symphony No. 36 in C major, “
This was the second concert of the day. And there were two Mozart pieces on the program. This, after sitting through a three-hour (plus intermission) Mozart opera earlier in the day. I was worried that it may be a bit much. Turns out it was.
On the anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s death, the orchestra played the composer piece without a conductor. Sheryl Maples did start the orchestra off with a few swings of her arm. The familiar piece was brilliantly played, and the audience was appreciative.
Robertson appeared to conduct Stravinsky Concerto. It was performed by an ensemble of about 16 players. This is a rather complex piece, but one can’t help but wonder – especially after the Candide performance – why a conductor was necessary. Stravinsky compares this composition to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. The similarity, alas, eludes me. The first movement (Tempo giusto) was delightful but monotonous sounding at times. The Allegretto movement had more give and take among the various instruments. There were some nice flute passages. The last movement (Con moto) was march-like. Dumbarton Oaks refers to an impressive 19th-century mansion in Washington, D.C.
One would think Mozart’s violin concertos would be part of an orchestra’s standard repertoire. I was surprised to find out tonight’s performance was a New York Philharmonic premiere. Gil Shaham performed the piece on the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius. When I heard him in June, 2005, I mentioned the violin didn’t sound as brilliant as I expected, but the Mozart piece carried beautifully above the orchestra tonight. He had some intonation problems with the first movement (Allegro moderato) but played the cadenza beautifully. He still moves about the stage quite a bit – obviously hasn’t read my review yet. After the second movement (Andante) I found the Rondeau-Allegro particularly delightful.
Shaham came back after the intermission to play Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto. The concerto consists of four movements: Toccata, Aria I, Aria II and Capriccio. Stravinsky actually specifies the tempo also, I guess he had a specific way he wanted the music played. Against the much larger orchestra, Shaham sounded much weaker. He actually needed the music which surprised me a bit. The first movement showcased good interplay between the soloist and the orchestra. Aria I contained a 3-note theme, nice harmonics, and detached notes. Aria II started with a strong statement from the violin which had a prominent role. The last movement was energetic, required much virtuosity from the violinist, and had many abrupt change of moods. I sense one’s appreciation of this concerto will greatly increase with additional listenings. An interesting note: Stravinsky was not a fan of the violin concerto genre.
Mozart’s Symphony began slowing (Adagio; Allegro spiritoso), and I was sure at a couple of occasions some jumped the gun. While it was a nice composition, I was feeling a bit sated with Mozart by this time. The second movement (Andante) was pastoral sounding and painted a picture of a countryside. The third movement (Menuetto; Trio) continued without pause to the Presto movement. Overall this is a nice Symphony that sounds very similar to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony.
With the addition of the Bernstein piece, we were not done until about 10:10 pm. It made for a long day – we left the house at 11 am and didn’t get back until after 11 pm, but I’m glad we went.