New York String Orchestra
Jaime Laredo, Conductor
Leon Fleisher, Piano
Katherine Jacobson, Piano
Members of Windscape:
Randall Wolfgang, Oboe
Alan R. Kay, Clarinet
Frank Morelli, Bassoon
David Jolley, Horn
Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 28, 2004
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Sinfonia concertante in E-flat Major for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, and Orchestra, K.a9 (1778): Allegro, Adagio, Andantino con variazioni, Wolfgang (Oboe), Kay (Clarinet), Morelli (Bassoon), Jolley (Horn).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major, K.242 (1776): Allegro, Adagio, Rondeau: Tempo di Menuetto, Fleisher and Jacobson (on Two Pianos).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385, “Haffner” (1782): Allegro con spirito, Andante, Menuetto, Finale: Presto.
New York String Orchestra (NYSO), in its 36th Season, under the leadership and guidance of Conductor and renowned concert artist, Jaime Laredo, is a training program for musicians, aged 15-22. Competitive auditions are held each year for the admission of about 61 students from high schools, conservatories, and colleges. During the December Holidays, the students are offered orchestral rehearsals and chamber music sessions with distinguished alumni, such as Cho-Liang Lin and Pamela Frank. Some of the alumni also appear in two concerts at Carnegie Hall, one of which is reviewed tonight.
Jaime Laredo frequently performs with wife, Sharon Robinson in the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Mr. Laredo is also Music Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and is active in various national and international music competitions and festivals. Leon Fleisher, renowned pianist and conductor, performed a rare two-hand concert tonight, having recently overcome a debilitating illness affecting the right hand. For many years, Mr. Fleisher performed works for left hand only. Katherine Jacobson was a student of Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and collaborates with Mr. Fleisher in the Fleisher-Jacobson International Children’s Education Foundation.
Windscape was formed in 1994 by five woodwind soloists. Flautist Tara O’Connor did not perform tonight. Randall Wolfgang is also principal oboist with New York City Ballet and New York City Opera. Alan R. Kay is principal clarinetist with the Queens Symphony and artistic director of New York Chamber Ensemble. David Jolley recently performed the horn solo for a new Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic. Frank Morelli is the first bassoonist to be given a doctorate by Juilliard and has performed at Carnegie Hall and at the White House. (Program Notes).
The Sinfonia concertante in E-flat Major is a lighthearted work, with conversational passages of oboe and bassoon that evoke rapture and romance. The virtuosic Randall Wolfgang seemed to take the lead, with the remaining woodwinds and orchestra in minor roles. His oboe was unrestrained and exquisite. His first movement lyrical introduction with Alan R. Kay’s clarinet contrasted to the third movement’s flourishes and flair with David Jolley’s horn and Frank Morelli’s bassoon. The pleasant refrains and tiny solos were melodic and impassioned. I look forward to hearing Windscape again.
The Concerto for Two Pianos in F Major was a fascinating work, with two concert grand pianos onstage, as soloists faced each other in dramatic fashion. New York String Orchestra held its own in remarkable form, for students in workshops. And, Jaime Laredo conducted the orchestra in front of him and the two pianists behind him, at once, a challenging feat. Katherine Jacobson, in a silver, shimmering pantsuit, was quite a vision, as she and Leon Fleisher matched or alternated solos with confident and charismatic technique. A lovely theme builds in resonance, as the orchestra alternates or combines the piano themes, perhaps a bit too blended, as the orchestral sections or solo string musicians did not seem to be showcased in these first two works.
Mr. Fleisher’s right hand seemed nimble and timely, as he executed fine trills and exacting solos and duets with miraculous ease, considering the rarity of these two-hand concerts. Ms. Jacobson is a highly skilled pianist and communicated with eye contact, as she and Mr. Fleisher were so well matched and precise in their timed entrances and pauses in this unusual Concerto. The final Rondeau movement would have been a perfect Minuet, danced with powdered wigs and bustles.
Finally, New York String Orchestra performed on its own, after an intensive series of chamber sessions and workshops during their winter vacations. I was duly impressed, and Mr. Laredo is to be congratulated for such inspirational leadership. The students looked relaxed and motivated, and they seemed quite eager to perform. The Allegro movement produced superbly nuanced sound, with cello and viola sections in rapid combinations. The Andante movement generated fluttering violin passages, followed by very high notes in succession, as violas played slower companion chords. This highly structured Symphony included deliberately long pauses between movements.
The Menuetto movement was brief, like the classic dance, and the celli provided resonance and richness. The Finale presented the finest of the orchestra’s potential, with powerful registers of sound, rapid, rippling violins, and contrasting tonalities and textures. Kudos to Jaime Laredo and New York String Orchestra, as well as to the fine soloists performing tonight. Kudos to Mozart.