New World Center proves ideal chamber venue in superbly varied program

By Alan Becker

Pianist Stewart Goodyear performed Chausson with members of the New World Symphony Sunday afternoon. Photo: Andrew Garn.

Because of its difficulty and the frequently adverse reaction of audiences, the music of Pierre Boulez is not a frequent visitor to the general concert platform (especially in Florida). Sunday’s program by musicians of the New World Symphony brought a belated visit of the music by this noted conductor, and showed us just what we have been missing.

In a program called “French Legacies”, this once-celebrated darling of the avant-garde, and follower of atonality, had two works performed. The first Derive 1, from 1984, had conducting fellow Teddy Abrams leading an ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone, and piano. Based on material from an earlier work, and with scoring similar to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Boulez created a short piece not too far afield from that noted work, although far more user-friendly with colors both raucous and Impressionistic.

His Memoriale, from a year later is a Webern-like piece for solo flute, horns, violin, viola, and cello. Its gentle colors, in what must have been a difficult learn, were well executed by Matthew Roitstein and the various ensemble members. The audience accepted these works with enthusiasm.

Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Winds is always a delight, with its saucy rhythms, harmonies, and sentimental melodies. The ensemble played with great spirit and lifted the music beyond that of mere nose thumbing. The meltingly sweet oboe playing of Alison Chung deserves special kudos, as did some of the bold, forthright horn work of Matthew Eckenhoff, a few bloopers apart. Suffering from an evident outbreak of hand-to-hand disease, the audience applauded every movement of every piece–even the lowering of the piano on its motorized platform.

Chausson’s rarely heard Quartet for Piano and Strings Op. 30 was the afternoon’s heavyweight. The four-movement work is lush, passionate, and superbly crafted. Pianist Stewart Goodyear, a student of Oxana Yablonskaya, Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman and Claude Frank, demonstrated his mastery with playing of intense magnetism and his ability to mold the music in long meaningful phrases. With string playing equally inspired, the performance was one of translucent beauty, particularly in the Andantino slow movement.

As a test of the new hall’s ability to handle chamber music, the result must be acclaimed in the affirmative. All instruments projected clearly, blended well, and sounded without any harshness.

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Mon Feb 14, 2011
at 12:08 pm
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