Monday, September 19, 2016

Mozart and Glass at New Century

The New Century Chamber Orchestra opened their 25th anniversary season with unusually attractive programming last week. The program started with a rediscovered (in 1962) Webern string quartet movement, Langsamer Satz, that was orchestrated for string ensemble by the late Gerard Schwarz in 1992. It's a short, gorgeous piece that sounds like late Mahler.

This was followed by Mozart's Piano Concerto #13, which has been one of my favorite stretches of music in the world for close to 50 years, and this was the first time I think I have heard it performed live. It was a lovely, idiomatic account by soloist Inon Barnatan above, and though I'm used to Alfred Brendel's more integrated performance with Neville Marriner on disc, this was an interesting soloist versus orchestra concerto performance, and I didn't miss the percussion or the woodwinds and brass at all.

After intermission, the string orchestra played Philip Glass's Third Symphony. Glass wrote the piece for the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra in 1995 and I listened to a few YouTube accounts that didn't do much for me, but live the music was stirring and serious and altogether transformed. The NCCO gave a great performance.

They finished the concert with a musical joke by Peter Heidrich, Happy Birthday Variations in the style of composers from Bach to Wagner. It was slightly unsatisfying after all the great music that preceded it, but the 15-movement piece elicited plenty of guffaws from musical cognoscenti.

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