Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Young Concert Artists Take Over Symphony Space

Where the hell was everyone? Symphony Space’s annual “wall to wall” concert marathons vary widely from the transcendent to the absurd, but the last couple of years have been solidly in the former camp, and a view of the afternoon portion of Saturday’s reaffirmed its potential for transcendence. This year’s theme tied into the Young Concert Artists mentoring system, with both graduates of the program, up-and-coming performers and mentors delivering some sensational performances. We missed the hour of Bach that began at the cruel hour of eleven in the morning: due to the demands of his day job, Bach may have become a morning person, but this generation of musicians are not. By half past noon, the shlep up to 96th St. looked like a good choice. And where were the locals? Usually, by noon, these marathons are impossible to get into. Was it the swirling winds, foreshadowing a future tornado along Broadway? It certainly wasn’t a lack of starpower. Among the performers hastily gathered for this marathon: pianists Emanuel Ax and Jeremy Denk, the Borromeo and Jasper String Quartets.

At half past noon, violinist Juliette Kang and cellist Efe Baltacigil were wrapping up a closely attentive, intense version of Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello. Denk was supposed to play Bach but reverted to a piece he said he knew well, enjoyed and played recently, a Gyorgy Ligeti suite, which proved irresistibly powerful, from its uninhibited crashing and banging in the first movement, to hypnotic, circular 20th century ambience to a reversion to fiery atonal staccato. It’s a rigorously intense, richly arrranged and practically impossible work to do as fast as he did it, but Denk made it seem if he’d grown up with it.

A Schubert hour saw Emmanuel Ax deliver a confidently rippling Impromptu followed by the Trout Quintet played with inspired intensity by a succession of pianists along with violinist Benny Kim, violist Barry Shiffman, cellist Robert Martin and bassist DaXun Zhang. Then it was time for a break for the world’s best garlic knots (La Famiglia Pizza, 96th and Amsterdam, serves them with barely cooked, crushed garlic, a healing ritual for anyone who dares ingest them). And after that, was the space sold out? No. Easy come, easy go. Was it the tornado-like gusts outside? The lack of global warming temperatures? What is up with you guys? Oh, did we mention, the show was free?

The 2 PM hour concluded with Tschaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, by a talented pickup band, and then a hypnotic, lush, otherworldly hour of Chopin played by a succession of Young Concert Artists players: Wendy Chen, Sergei Edelman and others (the program didn’t gibe with the parade of musicians onstage).

February 21, 2011 - Posted by | classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. @theamyb,

    I could not agree more with your “WTF?” reaction to the plethora of empty seats last Saturday. Nearly every one of th 100 or so chamber musicians could have sold out Alice Tully (and some of them, Carnegie) at $30-$100 per ticket. Everyone complains that classical music ticket prices are prohibitive, and yet nobody can be bothered to attend a FREE daylong marathon featuring the best of the best.

    Complete mystery! Are you a musican? If so, what’s your backgrounbf?

    Kind regards,

    Geoffrey M. Laff, PhD

    email: geofflaff@hotmail.com

    fb profile: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100001567215466

    Comment by Geoffrey Laff | February 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. @geofflaff I actually wasn’t there! I just edited this and put it up here – and got rid of most of the cursewords since the boss here was so PO’d about the light turnout. I remember it was a wacky weather day tho, might have had something to do with it…

    Comment by amy | March 1, 2011 | Reply


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