The pre-concert talks prior to Philharmonic concerts are always a great place to learn about the program. Saturday evening’s concert offered Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3. Lecturer Fred Plotkin organized his talk around two threads that run through both works – lesser-known and Vienna. I would have never known or understoon the connection between the two pieces had I not attended the lecture.
The soloist on the Mozart was pianist and audience favorite, Emmanuel Ax. While the Bruckner is not a solo piece, the brass section, particular principal horn Philip Myers had plenty of work for the second half.
In this all-American program (and all-Ivy League as I learned in the pre-concert talk), we got hear music from three generations of contemporary composers: Christopher Rouse (Prospero’s Room), Leonard Bernstein (Serenade for Violin, String Orchestra, Harp, and Percussion), and Charles Ives (Symphony #4). For some, a full concert of contemporary music might seem a bit much, but this evening’s collection served up a rather satisfying experience, especially with the addition of conductor, Alan Gilbert and violin soloist, Joshua Bell.
I was thinking about why I enjoy attending the Philharmonic so much. It has to do with excellence. Even as an audience member, I get to be a part of a musical event that embodies what we think of as excellence. While each program contains choices of musical selections that may or may not appeal, the performance is always of the highest quality. And that is very satisfying.
This is the third time in five years the Bennewitz Quartet from Czechoslovakia has played on the Chamber Music Society season. I can see why they have been back so frequently in such a short period of time. This group was fascinating to watch. Their synergy was evident in the clarity of the musical line and their physical involvement with the music, often almost telepathically moving the musical line from player to player. The dynamic range of the group was so incredible, often sharing with us the softest of pianissimo with full control.
The group provided a program of Ravel (Quartet in F Major for String), Martinu (Quartet No. 3 in F Major for String) and Schumann (Quartet in A Major for String). The first half – Ravel and Martinu – provided a nice study in how composers use color. Not the most “pretty” of pieces, but certainly beautiful.
Check out the Chamber Music Society’s Facebook page for more information on the Bennewitz and the program they presented.
This concert was the third in the Visionary Voices Series presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center. I’m glad I subscribed this year, since I was exposed to some different kinds of music I hadn’t been aware of previously: Toots Thielemans and Eddie Palmieri from the first two concerts. This concert introduced me to the Yes! Trio and Brandford Marsalis.
The Yes! Trio opened the concert with numerous original compositions. I enjoyed their style and have downloaded their latest recording. The group consists of Ali Jackson, Aaron Goldberg and Omer Avital. The second half consisted of Marsalis providing a retrospective of the music of the saxophone greats over time, including Ornette Coleman, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet and John Coltrane.