New World’s streaming compilation traverses eras, genres

By Lawrence Budmen

Picasso: Musical Instruments and Fruit Bowl on a Pedestal, 1913.

The New World Symphony’s video stream, presented Saturday night, combined performances from recent seasons and traversed the evolution of musical genres through the Baroque, classical and romantic eras. In a crisply edited 70-minute program, visuals were well coordinated with solo and ensemble passages, vividly conveying the interaction between conductor and players.

Violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff played concertmaster in a lithe, animated performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. With spare vibrato from the strings and John Wilson’s elegant harpsichord continuo, Tetzlaff spun the solo lines with aristocratic verve.

Margeaux Maloney and Chelsea Sharpe’s strongly pointed phrasing and stylish articulation encompassed the rapid tempi in the outer movements of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in a minor. The soloists’ purity of intonation and singing line captured the operatic arioso of the Largo. Jeannette Sorrell, director of the Cleveland-based ensemble Apollo’s Fire, infused real charm into Vivaldi’s repetitive motifs, conducting and playing the harpsichord while standing.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 in C minor is one of the least played of the composer’s 12 London symphonies, the summit of his works in this form. Superb orchestral execution and astute balancing marked a reading of the Allegro moderato (first movement) under Bernard Labadie. Labadie gave equal weight to the music’s energetic drive and darker minor key gravitas.

Jeffrey Kahane’s nimble, idiomatic playing highlighted the final Rondo-Allegro from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major. Drawing an appealing light sonority from a Fazioli, Kahane’s own extended cadenza was imaginatively conceived. While orchestra and piano were aptly synchronized, there seemed to be a disconnect between Kahane and conductor James Gaffigan. In contrast to Kahane’s deft touch, Gaffigan’s blunt-edged direction emphasized volume over classical elegance.

Artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas was on the podium for a magisterial performance of Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn. From the eloquent statement of the principal theme, Tilson Thomas brought out the multiple colors of Brahms’ instrumental textures. The composer’s signature dark undertow of lower strings was strongly present. Tilson Thomas built the final passacaglia gradually with subtle dynamic shadings, leading to a triumphant restatement of the chorale.

As an added bon-bon, Tilson Thomas led a high-voltage account of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1, infused with Magyar seasoning and folkish lift.

The program will be available for 72 hours on replay to listeners who purchased tickets for the stream on Saturday.

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Sun Jan 24, 2021
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