With conducting duties split, a mixed New World outing at Arsht

By Lawrence Budmen

The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio performed Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto with the New World Symphony Saturday night at the Arsht Center. Photo: Christian Steiner

Cristian Măcelaru was scheduled to conduct the New World Symphony’s concert Saturday night at the Arsht Center. Yet he was replaced, with no explanation, by conducting fellow Chad Goodman and violinist Jaime Laredo who split the program’s directing duties. The Romanian-born conductor was clearly in town since he was presented with the University of Miami Frost School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award earlier in the week. Fortunately, the show did indeed go on, for the most part smoothly.

The Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra in C Major is not first-tier Beethoven. Because it requires three well- matched soloists, the concerto is more frequently encountered on recordings than concert programs (where orchestras’ budget considerations hold sway). New World was joined by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. Laredo led the orchestra and cued his colleagues with one hand or his bow.

After forty-three years on international concert stages, the trio no longer produces as large a corporate sonority as in past times but they still blend well. In the first movement, Kalichstein’s svelte touch and pristine classical styling was strongly apparent. Laredo can still produce lovely soft tones and he kept the momentum steady while never allowing the orchestra to become overpowering or too recessed. The final Rondo alla polacca has more than its share of longueurs and repetition but Laredo’s moderate tempo and natural pulse emphasized the music’s chamber music like interplay of voices. Taken at a briskly syncopated clip, the coda pulled out all the stops.

Goodman led the program’s rearranged first half with adept professionalism. Anton Webern’s orchestration of the Ricecar No. 2 from The Musical Offering by Johann Sebastian Bach is as much Webern as Bach. Webern’s typically small instrumental cells and diffusion of melodic lines sounds less like Baroque invention than the compositions of the Second Viennese School. Arno Tri Pramudia’s muted trombone  and Jesse Kasinger’s caressing violin exemplified the exacting execution by the ensemble. Goodman kept the arrangement’s single imposing climax in scale and made the best possible case for this curio.

Conversely, Strauss’s Don Juan got off to a weak start, lacking thrust and lift. This libertine seemed pretty tame under Goodman’s tentative and lackluster command and there was some ragged string articulation. About halfway through the score’s seventeen-minute duration, the performance finally came together. James Riggs’ expressive oboe solo was exquisitely pitched and the famous horn motif sprang forth resonantly.

A delightful reading of Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 brought the perfect fusion of gypsy and klezmer-tinged nostalgia, none more so than in Angelo Quail’s clarinet slides. The warmth and zest of Ashley Wang’s viola and the fleet accuracy of Leah Stevens and Jack Reddick’s flute duos were standouts in a tightly controlled reading with the percussion battery having a field day. Despite some pre-mature applause at the rest before the coda, Goodman ratcheted up this hybrid amalgamation of village band and symphony orchestra to a joyous conclusion.

Joshua Gersen conducts the New World Symphony in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with Ben Fryxell as soloist and Aaron Jay Kernis’ Legacy with hornist Scott Leger, 7:30 p.m. March 20 and 21 at the New World Center in Miami Beach. nws.edu; 305-673-3331

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Sun Mar 8, 2020
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