Music Performance Reviews
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
New York Philharmonic
Lorin Maazel, Music Director
Zarin Mehta, Executive Director
Kurt Masur, Conductor
Sarah Chang, Violin
Performed at Avery Fisher Hall
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 17, 2004
Weber (1786-1826) Der Freischütz Overture (1821)
Shostakovich (1906-75) Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 99 (1947-48): Nocturne, Scherzo, Passacaglia, Burlesca
Schumann (1810-56) Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, "Rhenish", op. 97 (1850): Lively, Scherzo, Not Fast, Solemn, Lively
Weber's Der Freischütz Overture was premiered in Berlin in 1821, with the composer conducting, and the New York Philharmonic premiered the work in 1843, during the orchestra's second concert, with Ureli Corelli Hill conducting. Included in the instrumentation are pairs of flutes, three trombones, and timpani. (Philharmonic Notes).
This piece, balletic at times, melancholy at other moments, included passages of near silence, followed by eruptions of flowing music, like a rushing waterfall. There were numerous contrasts of volume and mood, and at the height of orchestral energy, the strings raged furiously. The clarinet provided a poignant solo, and the horns were triumphant. Yet, Maestro Masur seemed to keep the orchestra tight. He conducted with slight gesture and glance.
Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 99 was premiered in Leningrad in 1955, with David Oistrakh on violin and Yevgeny Mravinsky conducting, and the New York Philharmonic premiered the work in 1955, with David Oistrakh on violin and Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting. Included in the instrumentation are three bassoons, tambourine, xylophone, tam-tam, celesta, two harps, and tuba. (Philharmonic Notes).
Maestro Masur opened a bit more for the Shostakovich, but Sarah Chang was the sensational star of this piece, with a virtuosic performance throughout the four movements. Her violin was exacting and ecstatic, and, with her long hair bouncing and her golden gown glistening in the lights, Ms. Chang and her violin mesmerized the audience with energetic and eery effects. The edgy music of the Nocturne seemed disturbing and foreboding, the calm before the storm. The Scherzo included military themes and a whirlwind of strings.
Ms. Chang's poise and power allowed her sharp, clear notes to waft slowly into silence or to slice through the Concerto with cacophonous chords. The Passacaglia opened with the horns in profound, funereal effects, followed by Ms. Chang's mournful theme. The solos were exceptionally lengthy, but I did not want them to end. Burlesca included full percussion, and the unusual instrumentation of tam-tam, celesta, two harps, tambourine, and xylophone created a Concerto with texture and depth.
Schumann's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, "Rhenish", op. 97 was premiered in Düsseldorf in 1851, with the composer conducting, and the New York Philharmonic premiered this work in 1860, with Theodore Eisfeld conducting. Included in the instrumentation are two oboes, two clarinets, and timpani. (Philharmonic Notes).
This highly structured Symphony has moments of passion, and the three trombones lent strong orchestral support. There were passages of mellifluous and bucolic music, and prancing and soaring motifs were evident in the third movement. A full, rich quality emanated throughout, and the heralding fanfare at the conclusion was powerful. However, Maestro Masur seemed restrained and reserved. After the Shostakovich, the Schumann Symphony seemed disappointing, not due to the Philharmonic, but perhaps to the Conductor's cues, which were, again, slight gesture and glance.
Sketch courtesy of Lauren Castillo