The Juilliard School
The 13th Annual Jerome L. Greene Concert
(Juilliard Orchestra Web Page)
Fabio Luisi, Conductor
Simon Michal, Violin
At Alice Tully Hall
Media Relations: Gloria Gottschalk
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 13, 2014
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll.
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216.
“Allegro”, “Adagio”, “Rondo”: “Allegro-Andante-Allegretto-Tempo primo”.
Schumann: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, “Spring”, Op. 38.
“Andante poco maestoso-Allegro molto vivace”, “Larghetto”, “Scherzo” (Molto vivace), “Allegro animato e grazioso”.
There is no conductor, who could be more perfectly suited for leading the multi-talented student orchestra from Juilliard, than Fabio Luisi. Maestro Luisi, from Genoa, Italy, is Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and General Music Director of the Zurich Opera. As an opera conductor, Mr. Luisi is a specialist in drawing impassioned phrases and searing tonalities, with nuanced musical imagery, at each turn of a composition. For these lucky music students, working with Mr. Luisi must have been an extraordinary experience. The chemistry, throughout tonight’s Tully Hall performance, was thick, not only between orchestra and conductor, but also between individual students and Mr. Luisi. Tonight was the 13th Annual Jerome Greene Concert, named for a beloved trustee and supporter of Juilliard. For the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, the violinist was Simon Michal, the Juilliard Orchestra’s concertmaster, as well as the Musical Academy of the West’s Festival Orchestra concertmaster. Mr. Michal, only 20, is already a renowned Czech violinist.
The Wagner Siegfried Idyll was infused with lush, sweeping tones. Mr. Luisi made eye contact with various string sections and featured musicians, using his hands and expressive gestures intermittently. The students were smiling and focused, as the theme unfolded. Strings and horns were filled with flourish and freshness, in the finale. The horn solo was perfectly tuned and timed, and the packed Hall seemed to love it. Once again, I took note of the fine refurbishing of Tully Hall’s interior, earlier admiring the tall, glass entrance and café, and, now inside, admiring the golden, honey and black-wooden arches and walls, almost shaped like a cruise ship interior. Although I’ve been to Tully in recent months, it’s always an unfolding pleasure. And, acoustics are marvelous.
For the Mozart Concerto, Mr. Michal was instantly greeted warmly, with students tapping their shoes on the stage. Mr. Michal appeared quite comfortable, always in calm command. The “Allegro” movement was persuasively polished Mr. Luisi stood very close to Mr. Michal during his solos, with emotional and professional support. The first violin solo exuded a vibrant, yearning theme, with rapid string repetitions. The “Adagio” movement was mesmerizing, with Mr. Michal echoing the orchestral theme in various tonal incarnations. The tones shift from higher to deeper, to the edge of keys and back, with volume first languid, then driven. The violin repeats, echoes, and reinvents phrases within the expansive theme. The third, ever evolving movement, almost danceable at times, with swirling, sweeping refrains, has the solo violin leading passages, followed by orchestral reinventions. Mr. Michal was always in sync with the rhythm of orchestral collaboration. The woodwinds were widely showcased, with a fading oboe ending the Concerto. Mr. Michal is a humble and masterful, featured artist. .
The Schumann Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, also called the Spring Symphony, brought out the best of each orchestral section, with strings and percussion especially busy. The first, mixed tempo movement included titanic theatrics with full percussion, then quieter flute. Mr. Luisi used facial gestures to signal mood and motif. Sweeping, deep, bass infusions were followed by quietude and melancholia, before a regal horn finish. The “Larghetto” movement was poignant and romantic, with violas and cellos warming the violins. Instrumental conversations ensued, before galloping strings added momentum. The “Scherzo” and “Allegro” movements were essentially combined. Early in the third movement, dervish dance rhythms, sometimes waltz-like, ensued. Later, the central theme expanded in volume and speed, as the Maestro pushed his hands in the air toward the horns. The students enjoyed their standing ovation. Kudos to Maestro Luisi, and kudos to the Juilliard Orchestra.
Fabio Luisi, Conductor
Courtesy of Barbara Luisi