By Ed kliszus
This event was one of The Orchestra Now’s concerts delving into the works of Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, and Jean Sibelius. Immediately notable was the Orchestra’s gift tonight of a free concert of marvelous orchestral music. On this cold rainy night, audience members lined up down 95th street, waiting for doors to open for a full house of appreciative patrons.
The music was diverse, and while Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 is more often held among standard orchestra repertoire, the less-heard Schumann’s Genoveva Overture and Strauss’ Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo provided both audience and musician alike with unique, rich, artistic, and musical experiences.
This notable variety of musical works is apposite for The Orchestra Now, an ensemble of young professionals assembling to hone their skills for careers in music around the world. This evening, under the able baton of conductor Zachary Schwartzman, these artists expanded their repertoire and contexts for their future challenges. Each work provided ample opportunity for solos, marvelous brass, string and wind tuttis, lush strings, and musical poetry.
As Genoveva began with lush, elegant, and plaintive strings, one reflected on Schumann’s orchestra works which are among the most inspired creations of the 19th century. As a joyous French horn section tutti intoned at prescribed intervals, Schumann’s aesthetic of reflecting an inner state of mind or form imposed by pure ideas emerged. Genoveva was mood, color, suggestion, and allusion at its best, superbly performed by the musicians with the passion and exuberance of Florestan and thoughtful reflections of Eusebius.
During this post Hugo von Hofmannsthal era, Strauss crafted the libretto for his opera Intermezzo (1924). The music expressed a domestic, autobiographical yarn about jealousy between Strass and his wife, Pauline. The work emerged after Der Rosenkavalier during a time when an anachronistic Strauss clung to his old formulas. Putting that aside, the Orchestra articulated and experienced Strauss’ brilliant orchestrations, inventiveness, sumptuous melodies, and grand waltzes.
Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 is an early work displaying the composer’s deference to Tchaikovsky, the Russian School, and his command of short motifs and abrupt development. For many, it requires a patient, self-disciplined expectation for the work’s dramatic denouement. While some critics may consider Sibelius an anachronistic relic of post-Romanticism, his later works have been described as an evolved mosaic style that avoids Romantic rhetoric. The Symphony No. 2 Is replete with lush, delightful melodies, French Horn tuttis, and broad scenes of Scandinavian landscapes.
The Orchestra Now presents vibrant, masterful performances of major and minor works. Orchestra members contribute program notes and introduce concert works from their respective musical perspectives. It is always a treat to experience their concerts. Be sure to peruse links to upcoming events.
Runtime two hours, including intermission.
The Orchestra Now
Leon Botstein, Music Director and Conductor
Zachary Schwartzman, Conductor
For information, calendar and tickets go to https://ton.bard.edu/tickets/.
PO Box 5000 30 Campus Rd., Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson NY 12504 845-752-2422
Readers may also enjoy our reviews of The Orchestra Now Presents Sight and Sound, The Orchestra Now presents the Lost Generation, Master Your Mindset: The Master’s Way, and The American Classical Orchestra presents Remember.