The Colorado Symphony and Legato Arts
The Colorado Symphony Chamber Musicians
Yumi Hwang-Williams, Violin
Michael Thornton, French horn
Andrew Litton, Piano
Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 15, 2014
A Glorious Morning (World Premiere): Composed by Daniel Kellogg (b. 1976).
Trio for Horn, Violin, Piano (2008-09): Composed by Eric Ewazen (b. 1954).
Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 (1865): Composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).
It was intriguing to see a program of interlocking works, three horn trio compositions, one from Brahms in 1865, one from Eric Ewazen from 2009, and one from Daniel Kellogg, a World Premiere. Three members of The Colorado Symphony included Andrew Litton, its Musical Director, on piano tonight. The last and only time I wrote about Mr. Litton was in February, when he superbly conducted the City Ballet Orchestra for Coppélia. The Colorado Symphony’s Concertmaster, Yumi Hwang-Williams, and Horn Principal, Michael Thornton, were front stage. The evening began with Mr. Kellogg’s A Glorious Morning, with a Shakespeare sonnet in the program to set the mood, “Full many a glorious morning have I seen…” The piece began with mournful, elongated violin passages, followed by atonal, contrasting themes on violin and piano. The dissonant tones blended, with a staccato, repetitive horn, then crashing chords led to an introspective piano theme. The piece ended in ethereal expansiveness. Mr. Kellogg’s informative program notes describe the rising of the sun and its dancing light. He evoked Brahms’ work as influential. I recall, many years ago, waiting for, then watching the sun rise in the Grand Canyon. This music exuded that aesthetic majesty.
Mr. Ewazen’s Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano was composed with four movements that echo those of the following Brahms Trio. The “Andante Teneramente” is languid and melodic, with less of a horn fanfare than heard in the previous work. The “Allegro Vivace (Scherzo)” had the vivacious rhythm of a fox hunt, with Mr. Litton’s piano fervent and percussive. Ms. Hwang-Williams’ violin builds in volume and tempo, intertwined with Mr. Thornton’s pulsating, French horn. Wistful keyboard waterfalls ensue. The “Andante Grazioso” had a lyrical, bucolic, folkloric theme, hinting, at times, of Copland, as well as the noted Brahms. In the “Maestoso-Allegro Energico (Fugue)”, a majestic horn and violin strike sharp, but yearning, echoing refrains. The piano joins in the dramatic finale.
The 19th century, Brahms Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40, the source of inspiration for the two recently composed works, reviewed above, was performed, after intermission, with astounding mastery. Brahms, as noted in program notes, lost his mother during the same year this Trio was composed. The opening “Andante” is mournful, longing, and reverent, replete with hints of the earlier performed works, but fully expressive of grief. There was a balletic effect in the emotional aura of the instrumental fusion. The “Scherzo” was at first regal and heraldic, especially thanks to the brisk horn, followed by calmness and serenity. The movement morphed into a racing, musical chase, once again evoking a forestial hunt. Mr. Litton provided drama in the dizzying theme, while Ms. Hwang-Williams and Mr. Thornton added impassioned pulse. The “Adagio mesto” was gorgeous, with a whispering, lamenting, violin. The piano supported the funereal, wrenching repetitions, blended with horn dirges. Finally the “Allegro con brio” filled the Hall with dervish, swirling string momentum, frolicking piano, and a resounding, reverberating horn. In fact, I noted that the trio of musicians seemed to sound orchestral, with propulsive, woven harmonies. Kudos to all.