Fandango for Violin and Orchestra*
Anne Akiko Meyers (violin)
Los Angeles Philharmonic
*New York premiere
Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski
Reviewed: 26 October, 2022
Venue: Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, New York City
This exhilarating concert highlighted music from the Americas, opening with Gabriela Ortiz’s Kauyumari, LA Phil commission, a colorful reflection of the composer’s Mexican heritage. The title refers to the ‘blue deer’, a peyote-induced god who leads the Native American Huichol people on an annual pilgrimage to a higher state of awareness. From its triumphant brass and percussion opening, reminiscent of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, the hypnotic music develops from a simple folk tune into a complex and vibrant melody on the winds, accompanied by infectious, Stravinsky-like rhythms, and grows into a pulsating final celebration of hope and renewal. Gustavo Dudamel conducted superbly, and the LA musicians responded with precision and panache.
Next came Arturo Marquez’s mariachi-inspired Fandango, written for Anne Akiko Meyers. The three-movement work enjoys gorgeous melodies, electrifying challenges for the violinist, lush orchestral interludes, and constantly changing rhythms.
The first movement, Folia Tropical, brimming with themes inspired by ancient dances of Portugal and Spain and featuring rhythms based on the Caribbean clave, featured a lovely clarinet solo that turned into an even lovelier dialogue with the violin. In the exquisitely lyrical second movement, Plegaria (Prayer), the violinist’s long solo lines gracefully called up rhythms of the chaconne, mariachi huapango, and Spanish fandango. The flamboyant conclusion, Fandanguito, is a tribute to Huasteco song, noteworthy for its fiendishly difficult solos. Meyers’s playingwas wonderful throughout, breathtaking when her fingers danced along the strings at a dazzling pace.The concert ended on a high note with a blazing account of Aaron Copland’s Symphony No.3, written at the end of World War Two and a statement of American aspiration and optimism. Dudamel made it into energetic evocation of its time and spirit, especially in the Finale based (like the Ortiz) on Fanfare for the Common Man, and delivered with booming, ultra-brassy sound. The encore was ‘Celebration Dance’ from Copland’s score for the ballet Billy the Kid.