Concerto in F [American premiere of critical edition by Timothy D. Freeze]
Scheherazade — Symphonic Suite, Op.35
Aaron Diehl (piano)
New World Symphony
Chad Goodman [Clyne]
Reviewed by: David M. Rice
Reviewed: 12 December, 2021
Venue: Dreyfoos Concert Hall, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Florida
Many of the post-conservatory fellows of the New World Symphony, after three years of working with eminent visiting musicians, go on to become members in orchestras around the United States and abroad. Co-founded thirty-four years ago by Michael Tilson Thomas, NWS is based in the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami Beach, but also performs in other venues — on this occasion under the tutelage of Marin Alsop.
Alsop conducted the premiere of Anna Clyne’s Masquerade at the Last Night of the Proms in 2013. However, at this concert, she turned the podium over to NWS conducting fellow Chad Goodman, who displayed self-assurance as he directed an exuberant yet carefully managed performance of this brief yet rather complex work. Masquerade was inspired by “the original mid-18th century promenade concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens” and that Clyne sought to evoke their “exciting, yet controlled, sense of occasion and celebration.” Goodman and the players rose to the occasion, with the large percussion section playing a prominent role right from the opening drumbeat and whipcrack. Clyne’s weaving of the traditional song ‘Juice of Barley’ doesn’t quite make sense, but the performance served as a showcase for the NWS musicians.
Next, with Alsop, was George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, with Aaron Diehl, primarily a jazz musician and composer, but he has recently recorded works by Prokofiev and Phillip Glass. The new critical edition of the Concerto was created to correct a history of publishing errors and performers’ accretions and alterations. Diehl captured the Concerto’s jazzy rhythms and its more ‘classical’ aspects. The NWS fellows excelled in bringing out Gershwin’s colorful orchestration – a skill that he studied hard to acquire (Ferde Grofé scored the earlier Rhapsody in Blue) – with Morgen Low’s bluesy trumpet solos in the middle movement particularly atmospheric. Freeze’s corrections and changes have not dramatically altered the Concerto, so its familiar themes and brilliancies can continue to please listeners as they have since 1925.
Following intermission, Alsop, led a stunning performance of Scheherazade, with concertmaster Michael Turkell’s violin superbly voicing the eponymous teller of tales. Alsop’s conception of the piece was exciting throughout, the orchestra immediately responsive to her subtle adjustments. In ‘The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship’ the strings seeming to sway along with her as the waves, emphasized by Claire Bradford’s cello solos, rocked Sinbad’s vessel. There were standout wind solos in ‘The Kalendar Prince’ and ‘The Young Prince and The Young Princess’, and the brass was in glorious form, making a mighty sound in the climactic depiction of the shipwreck.