The Juilliard School
James DePriest, Conductor
Erno Kallai, Violin
Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage
Gloria Gottschalk: Juilliard Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 12, 2008
George Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody No. 2, Op. 11 (1901-02).
Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 (1935): Allegro moderato, Andante assai-Allegretto-Tempo 1, Allegro ben marcato. Erno Kallai, Violin.
John Corigliano: Symphony No. 1 (1990): Apologue: Of Rage and Remembrance, Tarantella, Chaconne, Epilogue.
Tonight was my first concert experience with the Juilliard Orchestra, and I was immensely impressed. The students performed and presented themselves with the highest level of poise and professionalism. James DePriest, Conductor, is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School. He is also Laureate Music Director of the Oregon Symphony, and until recently served as Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He guest conducts nationally and internationally and has 50 recordings as well. He was awarded 13 Honorary Doctorates and authored two poetry books. Erno Kallai, tonight’s Solo Violinist, has studied at Juilliard since 2006. He plays a 1728 Stradivari violin tonight, lent by Juilliard for this occasion. Mr. Kallai was first prize winner of the 11th Carl Flesch International Violin Competition. Mr. Kallai was born in Budapest in 1986.
The Enescu Romanian Rhapsody opened with sweeping sentimentality, before it built in volume, as do many national celebratory works. A folk motif was showcased by the Concertmaster plus additional violin leads. Maestro DePriest conducts from a motorized chair, and his presence is profoundly powerful, a quiet dignity with total command and chemistry with his orchestra. The piece ends with a Romanian theme, evocative of a Czarda, with exotic whirls and ornamentations.
The Prokofiev Violin Concerto has long been one of my favorites, and this work, along with the Corigliano, drew me to this concert. The first movement “Allegro moderato” brought out Erno Kallai, who could not have exuded more confidence and exhilaration. The work opened with ardent emotionality, and it was obvious that this student orchestra was highly rehearsed in the rapid momentum, supported by steady percussion . The second movement is imbued with contrasting tempos and moods. “Andante” meshes into “Allegretto”. Mr. Kallai’s sad, mournful violin solo creates a melody of breathless beauty, before the “Allegretto” has his Stradivari dancing in a whirlwind. I noticed that the “Tempo 1” segment evoked musical quotes reminiscent of Prokofiev’s ballets. The third movement, “Allegro ben marcato”, includes a marching momentum that builds with warlike motifs. Mr. Kallai creates a spinning violin solo, while the Orchestra’s percussion remains busy. The audience was vocally enthused with this Concerto, and Mr. Kallai returned for multiple bows.
I first heard the Corigliano First Symphony when it was premiered, and it maintains its brilliant bellicosity and bearing. This work is a tribute to all those affected by AIDS. The “Apologue” sets the tone of “Rage and Remembrance”, opening in an eerie elegy. Tiny percussive blasts flow into massive exploding timpani. The atonal strings seem like rain after a hurricane, and one open stage door allows for the overlay of a far-away piano. This was powerful musical expression, as the offstage piano merged into more eerie strings. The “Tarantella” races, wild and dizzy, like a drunken dancer. Flutes can be heard in contrasting tones and tempos, with extraordinary overlapping, followed by deep phrases, perhaps bassoons. The “Chaconne” featured a cellist in an anguished, plaintive solo. Two celli soon combined with increasing dissonance, before bellowing brass blew in, like a siren. Chimes tolled unfalteringly. The final movement, “Epilogue”, was mesmerizing and dramatic. After crackling orchestral crescendos, the quiet offstage piano played with hopeful romance, oblivious to the impending silence. John Corigliano appeared onstage with the Orchestra and Conductor with numerous audience accolades.
Kudos to the Juilliard Orchestra, and kudos to Maestro James DePriest.
Violinist, Erno Kallai
Courtesy of The Juilliard School