New World players show grace and brilliance in wide-ranging chamber program

By Lawrence Budmen

 

Stravinsky's Concerto in E flat, "Dumbarton Oaks," was performed by members of the New World Symphony Sunday afternoon.

The New World Symphony’s chamber music matinee Sunday at the New World Center in Miami Beach contrasted the neo-Baroque wit of Igor Stravinsky with the anguish of Bela Bartok and the sparkling concertante writing of Mozart. Well coached and thoroughly rehearsed, a contingent of New World players gave compelling performances of these wide-ranging scores.

Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat Major (Dumbarton Oaks) is a chamber orchestra showpiece. Stravinsky devised a modern concerto grosso with solo instruments taking turns leaping out of the ensemble texture. In a score usually performed with a conductor, fifteen New World players gave a textbook demonstration of crisp precision.

Without need of direction from the podium, the musicians were keenly attentive to the music’s rapid changes of meter and pulse. The bristling energy of the initial Tempo giusto was vividly captured. High marks to the spot-on intonation of the two horns and the tonal luxuriance of the three violas in exposed passages. The sly whimsy of the Allegretto emerged with luminous clarity, Seth Morris’s flute particularly nimble and acerbic.  Both the muscular drive and underlying irony of the final Con moto shone in bright colors.

The six string quartets of Bartok stand with the quartets of Beethoven and Shostakovich as boundary-pushing landmarks of the chamber music repertoire. Composed in 1939 as the composer’s mother was terminally ill and his native Hungary and all of Europe was on the verge of cataclysmic tragedy, Bartok’s String Quartet No. 6 combines the brusque vigor of Hungarian folk music with visceral emotional power. Each of the four movements begins with a Mesto (Italian for “sad”) theme played by a solo instrument, the unifying thread of  the rhapsodic score.

Anthony Parce’s evocative viola solo launched the first movement with expressive drama. Violinist Vivek Jayaraman’s stunning gypsy slides enlivened the appropriate harshness of the folk derived rhythms and melodic patterns, miles removed from Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. David Meyer’s deep, noble cello introduced the paprika-flavored Marcia. Playing in the instrument’s highest register, violinist Jeannette Jang’s introduction to the third movement resounded like a cry from the heart while the succeeding Burletta was dispatched with fire, the snappy unison  pizzicatos a brief moment of high spirits. The final movement is an austerely structured threnody of shattering emotional velocity. Replete with color and depth, the brilliant musicianship of the four players contributed to a powerhouse performance of a twentieth century masterpiece.

Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat Major for piano and winds is a miniature piano concerto in everything but name, the woodwind quartet serving as the orchestra. One of Mozart’s sunniest works, the score abounds in beguiling melodic invention. Confirming the strong impression she made in the New World Symphony’s recent Beethoven marathon, pianist Marnie Hauschildt was a technically immaculate, probing and authoritative protagonist. Her striking digital dexterity and light touch make her a natural Mozartean.

From the stately introductory Largo to the concerted glories of the Allegro moderato, the excellent wind foursome (Joseph Peters, oboe; Jason Shafer, clarinet; Kathryn Brooks, bassoon and Matthew Eckenhoff, horn) were appropriately light and bubbly, exchanging solo turns in lively conversation. Like one of Mozart’s wonderful ensemble finales in his operas, the concluding Allegretto was lively and fizzy, the sudden minor-key modulations all the more astonishing. The sweetness and agility of Peters’ oboe playing stood out in a captivating performance, propelled by Hauschildt’s pianistic brilliance.

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One Response to “New World players show grace and brilliance in wide-ranging chamber program”

  1. Posted Nov 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm by Andrew

    I totally agree, it was a high quality concerto. The Stravinsky for me the highlight was the flautist, excellent.

    The Bartok string quartet was everything you expected from an A list quartet. The tempo was spot on, they created a somber atmosphere that really transported you to the sadness Bartok was trying to convey.

    Mozart quintet was a breath of fresh air, I was impressed by the precision of the winds they were spot on, specially in such a melodic piece that you detect any error. Props to the bassoon and the clarinet.

    It was a delight to listen to to such professional players. They made my day.

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Mon Nov 7, 2011
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