Walton’s Viola Concerto in spotlight with New World Symphony
It’s Concerto Showcase time again at the New World Symphony. This annual two-night event provides the opportunity for fellows of the orchestra to take the spotlight and display their considerable talent. It’s also a time when some worthy but rarely performed music, is given an airing for an enthusiastic audience, as was the case for the first program Friday night at the Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach.
William Walton wrote one concerto each for violin, viola, and cello. Fortunately the English composer contributed handsomely to the scant supply of major viola concertos with one of the finest ever written.
Originally rejected by the famous violist Lionel Tertis because of its modernist style, Walton’s Viola Concerto was premiered by composer-violist Paul Hindemith (Tertis later relented and took up the score.) For today’s audience the music holds no terrors, although the soloist has considerable challenges to surmount.
Lotem Beider began the concerto’s lyrical opening Andante tranquillo with refined tone and soon released her instrument’s full bloom as the music developed. The characteristic Waltonian displaced accents interrupted the initial tranquil flow as the orchestra’s dynamics increased. Beider caught all of this, yet her instrument never produced a raw or nervous sound.
In the brief Vivo movement her lively tone blended well with the conflicting brass interjections, as if refusing to be swayed by what was happening around her. In the final movement Beider’s playing unfolded the music with a lyrical intensity both beautiful and agonizingly sad at the same time.
Mozart’s well known Clarinet Concerto was written in the last year of short life. It gives us cause to lament his loss even more since the music, particularly the Adagio, reaches the sublime in its depth of expression.
Jason Shafer was a fine exponent of this oft-performed work, and conveyed well his love for Mozart’s music. As with all the best performances, he was able to contrast the music’s dynamics with near-perfect technical control and a supple creamy tone.
Though it’s not really a concerto, Carl Maria von Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo is an effective instrumental showcase for bassoon and orchestra. Renee DeBoer handled her instrument with grace and dazzling virtuosity, drawing forth sounds of wide range and considerable beauty out of this confection.
Conductor Alasdair Neale and the New World Symphony players were alert to every interaction with the soloists. Their contribution transcended that of mere accompanist and contributed substantially to the success of the concert.
Concerto Showcase II at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will present Bartok’s Violin Rhapsody No. 1, Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 2 and Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola. www.nws.edu; 305-673-3331
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Sat Mar 13, 2010
at 11:54 am