Boston Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

Candide – Overture
Rodeo – Hoe Down
Chris Brubeck
Travels in Time for Three [New York premiere]
Harry Warren & Al Dubin
42nd Street [arr. Don Sebesky]
Fanny Baldridge, Joseph Bonine & Gregory Stone
Let’s Dance [arr. Don Sebesky]
Benny Goodman
Don’t Be That Way [arr. Billy May]
Al Jolson, Buddy DeSilva & Vincent Rose
Clarinet Concerto [first movement]
Mel Powell
Clarinade [arr. Don Sebesky]
Louis Prima & Benny Goodman
Sing, Sing, Sing [arr. Dick Hyman]
Freddie Mercury
Bohemian Rhapsody [arr. Chris Walden]

Cinematic Sing-Along [arr. Don Sebesky: As Time Goes By – Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – Moon River – The Way We Were – Que Sera, Sera – Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah – Over the Rainbow]

Tf3 [Zachary Du Pue & Nicolas Kendall (violins) and Ranaan Meyer (double bass)]; Matt Scarano (drums)

Thomas Martin (clarinet), J. William Hudgins (vibes), Bob Winter (piano), James Gwin (drums)

Boston Pops Orchestra
Keith Lockhart

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 8 March, 2012
Venue: Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City

Keith Lockhart. Photograph: Christian SteinerAfter a twelve-year absence, the Boston Pops Orchestra returned to Carnegie Hall for this nostalgia-infused concert. For this fun-filled New York City outing, the Pops offered a more thematically unified program than it usually presents in Boston’s Symphony Hall. With the sexception of Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody and an encore played by the guest performers, this was an evening of American music, all of which was surely very familiar to the many senior citizens in the audience.
The evening got off to a lively start with a spectacular rendition of the Overture to Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, followed by an equally energizing account of Copland’s ‘Hoe Down’ from his 1942 cowboy ballet Rodeo. Time for Three (Tf3) is a string trio with guest percussionist Matt Scarano. The four youthful musicians and the orchestra moved into this century with Chris Brubeck’s genre-bending concerto, Travels in Time for Three (2010). Jointly commissioned by eight orchestras including the Boston Pops, and tailor-made for the versatile Tf3 musicians, the piece incorporates jazz, country, funk, gospel and classical genres. In the first movement, ‘Thematic Ride’, a jazzy ‘train’ theme introduces and goes through numerous transformations until the movement ends in a faux baroque style. The second, ‘Irish Folk in Old Time’ opens in a drone-like imitation of uilleann pipes, but soon moves into some lively Irish fiddling as it races into a variety of jig and reel rhythms; Tf3 maintained the illusion that they were jamming. The humorous third movement (‘Clouseau’s Mardi Gras, Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler’) with an opening inspired by Henry Mancini, traveled into Cajun country, offering some blazingly fast fiddling and then a flood of cadenza activity from soloists and orchestra members before reaching a celebratory conclusion. For an encore Tf3 launched into a delightfully tongue-in-cheek rendition of Brahms’s Fifth Hungarian Dance with references to Fiddler on the Roof thrown in.
After intermission, the sounds of Broadway came to Carnegie Hall as the Pops launched into a wonderfully jazzy version of 42nd Street, tap-dancing sounds joyfully executed by percussionist Richard Flanagan on hand-held shoes. The indisputable highlight was A Tribute to Benny Goodman. Headlined by Thomas Martin, principal clarinet, the tribute replicated part of the program played by Goodman and his players in their famous 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall. The set included some of Goodman’s most memorable melodies: Let’s Dance, Don’t Be That Way, Avalon, and Sing, Sing, Sing. For this last tune, Martin was joined by J. William Hudgins on vibraphone, Bob Winter on piano, and James Gwin on drums – and the quartet and orchestra delivered a performance with many musical flourishes but highlighted by Martin’s colourful and dynamic solo, and Gwinn’s pulsating tom-tom playing.
In addition to a wonderfully swift and swinging delivery of Mel Powell’s Clarinade, the homage to Goodman also included the languorous opening movement of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, a piece commissioned by Goodman in 1947. Playing with rich but wonderfully focused sound, Martin perfectly captured the movement’s melancholic lyricism. Following the Goodman tribute, the Pops musicians channelled Queen in a warmly-rendered and well-received instrumental rendition of Freddie Mercury’s iconic rock song Bohemian Rhapsody, a piece the orchestra has recorded and which is often include in their concerts in Boston.
Finally, Keith Lockhart invited the audience to join the musicians in A Cinematic Sing-Along featuring such sentimental standards as As Time Goes By, Moon River, and Over the Rainbow. Most audience members readily joined in, to varying degrees of loudness and ability. A rousing performance of Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, a piece which has customarily concluded Boston Pops concerts since 1900.

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