For Gazette music writer Geraldine Freedman’s preview of this series, click here.
Youth was served at the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s Thursday night concert at the Canfield Casino in a program that pitted the traditional Baroque music of Bach and Corelli against a 21st century view.
The modern-day interpretation came from Juilliard School composers Gity Razaz, Michael Ippolito and Evan Fein and their three soloists, also from Juilliard: clarinet Moran Katz, cello Dane Johansen and trumpet Colin Sieg.
Music director David Alan Miller asked each composer to write a 12-minute concerto with Baroque music as the inspiration. The results were all quite different. All had the standard three fast-slow-fast movements. The setting was also perfect for these types of works, which used barely a 20-piece orchestra.
Ippolito’s “Vivaldi’s Bicycle” was a percussive, dark, intense, rhythmic work. The two outer propulsive movements enveloped a plaintive, languid inner movement that featured a lovely oboe solo before the music became tumultuous. Johansen played his often virtuosic part with intensity and fervor. Miller, always in his element with something that requires precision and exactness, was metronomically sure. The orchestra was equally fit.
Razaz’s Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra is a keeper of a concerto. Brilliantly written for clarinet with an orchestra part that provided interesting rhythmic and sometimes lyrical support, Katz was an inspiration. Fiery and precise, she didn’t drop a note in the always virtuosic part. Razaz took the spirit of the Baroque and threw her clarinetist a line — sometimes jazz inflected, sometimes quirky and spunky. The licks were tricky but she used the instrument’s entire range effectively. Her second movement was Copland-esque with its long solo lines and soft tones that required great control.
Fein’s “The Frustration of Gottfried Reiche” was based on a funny idea of a story with Sieg playing the part of Reiche. The first two movements were in keeping with his story line but the last movement showed that Fein could write pleasing music without a catch. Sieg produced a warm tone and showed fluency in his many technical passages.
In between these numbers were C.P.E. Bach’s bold and daring Sinfonia No. 5 in B minor, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and ended with J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in C Major. Compared to the modern works, these masterpieces were euphonious evocations. Miller set vigorous tempos and the orchestra sounded vibrant and robust.
The program will be repeated tonight at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and on Saturday at the 1st Congregational Church in Stockbridge.
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