Andai conducts Miami Symphony in engaging avian program
The Miami Symphony Orchestra’s “Flamingo” concert took flight at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall on Saturday night in one of their best performances of the season. Two bird-themed works, including the Florida premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Flamingo, bookended two concerti, which also included a world premiere.
Concertmaster Daniel Andai traded in his bow for a baton, making his conducting debut with the Miami Symphony. His engaging, likeable manner connected quickly with the audience, and clearly had a similar affect on his colleagues, who performed admirably under his clear, enthusiastic direction.
Daugherty’s Flamingo is a high-energy work with quirky, jerky rhythms and multilayered colors, and MISO’s performance was vibrant, with a tight, powerfully unified sound. Daugherty’s penchant for 1950’s and 60’s cartoon and movie music influences his often humorous orchestration, in this case favoring the winds, especially horn, in imaginary flamingo calls. Adrian Morejon’s bassoon solo, beginning in the penthouse and ending in the basement, was note-perfect. Percussionists Errol Rackipov and Dexter Dwight shone in dueling tambourine parts from opposite ends of the stage, including an exposed fugal section.
The Mozart Horn Concerto No. 3 was equally well-performed. MISO’s principal horn Hector Rodriguez is a sensitive musician with a buttery tone. MISO maintained its high energy in the opening of this work, providing clean, well-balanced support for Rodriguez’s smoothly shaped phrases. Rodriguez took his time with a teasing, playful cadenza in the Allegro, gently lulled with the supple Romanza, and galloped through the hunting calls of the jaunty Allegro finale.
Ottorino Respighi’s orchestral suite The Birds from 1927 also demonstrated MISO’s collective talent, shining a spotlight on nearly everyone in the best performance of the evening. Respighi’s arrangements of baroque works by Rameau, Bernardo Pasquini, Jacques de Gallot, and an anonymous Englishman are vividly orchestrated, showing the influence of his tutor, Rimsky-Korsakov. Highlights were MISO’s fiery agitato, perfect balance, and controlled ensemble playing in “The Hen,” and a beautiful entrance and exit in low strings for the nocturnal “Nightingale.” “The Dove” showcased Nick Thompson’s well-shaped oboe melody, supported by the strings’ trilling, gently coloristic effects. The recognizable call of “The Cuckoo,” while set primarily for horn and clarinet, cheerfully pervaded all the winds.
However, the crowd-pleaser was the world premiere of Concierto de Andalucía by three composers: Antonio Soteldo, Juan Diego Mateos, and MISO’s Composer-in-Residence Alex Berti.
The three movements are influenced strongly by flamenco, Spanish folk music and jazz, and feature percussion prominently, including drum kit in the first movement. Ostensibly a guitar concerto, the work was over-orchestrated and soloist Juan Diego under-amplified, so that much of his contribution was lost except during completely unaccompanied sections.
In the passages where he could be heard, such as the opening of Fulcro: Tepuyes, Juan Diego demonstrated clean flamenco technique and sure sense of Latin inflection, with a natural jazz touch. The spirited, jam-session nature of the work even featured Andai grabbing a violin and playing from the podium. However, the scene stealer was a rousing flamenco cajón solo connecting the second and final movements. The cajon is a rectangular wooden box with a loose front, and the—amazingly unnamed—cajon performer sat on the instrument, playing it with the hands, and in this case, even his feet.
MISO will repeat the program 7 p.m. Sunday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay.
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Sun Mar 11, 2012
at 11:57 am