Stravinsky looms large in New World’s concerto program, part deux

By Alan Becker

Karla Donehew-Perez

Each year the New World Symphony showcases the talent of some of its exceptional Fellows in two concerto programs, the second of which took place Sunday afternoon at the New World Center in Miami Beach.

One could hardly ask for greater contrast between works in the same genre than with Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto and the rich heart-on-sleeve romanticism of Max Bruch’s first Violin Concerto. While the Stravinsky is a pithy, well-respected addition to the concert scene whenever it appears, it is the Bruch that has garnered the love and affection of concertgoers since its first appearance in 1866.

New World Symphony Fellow Karla Donehew-Perez played Stravinsky’s concerto in its 1961 revision. Allthough shunning virtuosity and flashy writing, with the finger-stretching chords that open each movement, Stravinsky has produced a work that is by no means an easy play.

Donehew-Perez launched into the opening Toccata with confidence.  Some of the punchy chords and angular writing breathe the same air as Histoire du Soldat and Pulcinella, as well as several other Stravinsky pieces. Conductor Alasdair Neale and his very active ensemble provided just the right give and take to partner the soloist with responses to answer the challenges posed by the violinist. The music concludes with much whimsical writing and it was hard to resist smiling at the players’ near-perfect realization.

Kristina Goettler

Bohuslav Martinu’s Oboe Concerto dates from 1955 and shows a bit of the Stravinsky influence. The Czech composer rarely can resist bouncy rhythms and full harmonic cadences, nor can he resist romantic touches, at least as heard through a modern prism.

Second-year Fellow Kristina Goettler displayed a luscious tone and the ability to reach into the extremes of her instrument’s register without stridency. There is much beautiful writing in the concerto and considerable technical challenges. All flowed smoothly and seemingly without effort from Goettler’s double-reed instrument.

Brian Fox

Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor is one of a handful of famous concertos that show up with great regularity in concerts. It is certainly worthy of its popularity, although it would be nice if more artists would investigate his other underrated concerted works.

 Brian Fox, a third year Fellow, has been playing the work since the age of 14 (he’s now 32), and his performance showed all the confidence and technical security of a fully seasoned artist. His  warm resonant tone was touchingly expressive during the hushed moments of the Adagio.  The soloist’s legato and phrasing, at the core of violin technique, were remarkable, and his clean bracing virtuosity would have made some of his famous teachers proud. Once again, the New World Symphony under Neale served the soloist and the music well with the special camaraderie between orchestra members and one of their own Fellows producing that extra bit of frisson.

The only criticism of the concert relates to the distorted, over-reverberant audio of the video introductions that made the soloists’ spoken comments virtually indecipherable.

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Mon Mar 7, 2011
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