Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

An Ambitiously Translucent Debut Album by Flutist and Singer Alex Hamburger

Alex Hamburger is a graceful singer and a thoughtful, lyrical flutist. Her sonic home seems to be the instrument’s midrange: shrieking extended technique is not her thing. And she has a fearless political sensibility. Her debut album And She Spoke – streaming at Bandcamp – celebrates womens’ strength and resilience. Her songcraft is vivid and she doesn’t waste notes throughout this 2019 recording..

The opening number, Waking in the City is built around lyrics by Maya Angelou. Hamburger sings with a crystalline focus over a bass drone: “And I, an alarm. awake as a rumor of war, lie stretching into dawn, unmasked, unheeded.” Pianist José Luiz Martins and bassist Doug Weiss stretch themselves in tandem with a lithe hook, drummer Chase Kuesel building suspense on his cymbal bells and hi-hat, the bandleader’s lines dancing as the morning tableau unfolds. Martins spirals and ripples before Hamburger brings everything in for a soft landing.

The piano runs a brooding riff as she sings the opening verse of La Desesperación Es la Pasión Verdaderamente Humana – a setting of an eloquent and pretty inarguable text by Ana Maria R. Codas. Hamburger’s flute provides reedy hints of Colombian music before it’s suddenly over: the group keep you wanting more.

Martins shifts between piano and starry Rhodes in a balmy take of Geri Allen’s Unconditional Love, offering a fond but kinetic solo before Hamburger takes a purposefully strolling one of her own. It Comes Unadorned is a setting of lyrics by Toni Morrison – is the tune “strong enough to cast a spell?” This one is gentle but resolute, Martins looping a wary modal hook, Hamburger rising from disquiet in an account of casual serendipity.

She does Mary Lou Williams’ What’s Your Story Morning Glory as a steadily syncopated blues, Weiss taking a balletesque verse to set up Hamburger’s low-key, imaginatively ornamented solo, Last Chance Lost, a Joni Mitchell tune, gets a sober, stoic, brief interpretation over low lights, then the band segue into a plainspoken, earthbound jazz version of the Beatles’ Across the Universe.

The album’s final and strongest cut is Burning the Letters, a simmering, flamenco-tinged jazz waltz. It’s reason to look forward to whatever else this eclectic artist has cooking.

February 27, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Javon Jackson Reinvents Rare Spirituals with Nikki Giovanni’s Help

For his latest album, which hasn’t hit the web yet, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson asked poet Nikki Giovanni if she could suggest ten spirituals that he ought to record. She gave him a list with only a small handful of standards: otherwise, the tracks on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni are on the rare side. What’s more, the album marks possibly the first time this century that Giovanni has been featured on record as a lead singer.

She picked the ballad Night Song as a salute to her old friend Nina Simone. Since Jackson’s current home state, Connecticut, was locked down, he had to fly to Giovanni’s home in Virginia to cut the vocals. Pianist Jeremy Manasia plays spare, resonant chords beneath Jackson’s balmy lines as bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter provide whispery rhythm; Giovanni’s weathered evocation of being alone in a bustling crowd packs a wallop.

The first of the spirituals is a straightforwardly swinging take of Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel, a beautiful, stern minor-key tune, Jackson’s cantabile lead giving way to Manasia’s biting chords and elegant rudiments from Hunter.

Of the well-known numbers here, Wade in the Water makes a good segue, Jackson adding some spicy flourishes to his sailing lines, Manasia rising and falling before Christina Greer joins in to speak Giovanni’s scarily prescient words on how it’s up the outcasts and nonconformists among us to keep an otherwise soulless world alive.

The quartet reinvent Swing Low Sweet Chariot as a sly, slinky calypso jazz tune. yeah mon! By contrast, another familiar favorite, Mary Had a Baby, Yes Lord draws a straight line back to somber Birmingham-era Coltrane as well as Miles Davis. The group’s take of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child is much the same, with a regal, glittering, Mulgrew Miller-esque solo from Manasia.

But it’s the obscurities that everyone is going to want to hear. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is an aptly warm lullaby of a melody, Jackson giving it a calm midtempo swing and a misty-toned solo.

I’ve Been Buked (as in “rebuked”) has special historical resonance since Mahalia Jackson sang it at the Lincoln Memorial on the day of Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington speech there. Williams bookends it with stark bowing, Jackson letting the clouds drift away before Manasia’s glittering solo

Lord, I Want to Be a Christian, a duo arrangement for piano and sax, has an aptly reverent ambience. The group cut loose with a carefree swing in the closing number, I Opened My Mouth to the Lord, only to wind it out with a wary intensity. Gravitas and unselfconscious depth galore on an album which will no doubt be sought out by jazz and gospel fans alike.

February 24, 2022 Posted by | gospel music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Josh Sinton Is Your Private Busker

Josh Sinton made his new solo baritone sax album b – streaming at Bandcamp – in two days. As he tells it, it took him thirty years to figure out how to do it. And that includes playing plenty of solo shows, including a volcanic electroacoustic gig on contrabass clarinet at Issue Project Room in the spring of 2019 where it actually seemed that he might pass out, pushing the sound to the limits of what a pair of lungs and a bunch of pedals can create.

While that was a pretty harrowing performance, the new album is 180 degrees from that. Low-register instruments have seemingly unlimited potential for jokes, and this album is full of them: no spoilers! This is closer to the archetype of the solo busker with his back to a brick wall, in the wee hours somewhere in Manhattan. Yet it’s hardly forlorn. The music is playful, thoughtful and irresistibly funny in places.

Sinton takes his time: he’s hardly in a hurry to fill up the sonic picture. In the opening number, he follows a jaunty leap with a chromatic turnaround and rhythmic accents, an exercise in staccato and more than a few jokes.

Space plays a big part in the second improvisation, Sinton creating an unselfconsciously wry sense of suspense. As the album goes along, there are stretches of ballads and a fleeting gospel tune. We get all kinds of extended technique: trills, duotones, reed rattles, ridiculously peevish microtones and more, all juxtaposed with catchy riffs, long sustained tones and echo phrases that can be carefree, or snide. This isn’t about sizzling chops – although those are obvious here. This is about having fun, without falling back on cliches or practice patterns. When listening to this, you may want to resequence the tracks and put the goofy fifth one at the very end: again, no spoilers.

Perhaps tellingly, Sinton has a quartet album scheduled for this October, amplifying his musical vision of the world “where all people help all people to be free of fear, free to be themselves, free to love and free from advertising.” How cool is that?

February 22, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joyce DiDonato Salutes Environmentalist Consciousness Through the Ages

Although global warming persists as a threat to our survival, the World Economic Forum’s attempts to hijack environmentalism as a pretext for more lockdowns, surveillance and divide-and conquer schemes has sabotaged grassroots movements trying to restore climate stability. Our situation would be more dire if trees weren’t so resilient: they’re consuming more carbon dioxide than any 20th century doomsayers ever believed possible. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato offers a commonsensical solution in the liner notes to her latest release, Eden, which isn’t online yet. “In this time of upheaval, which seed will you plant today?”

With the new album, she’s pulled together a playlist of eco-friendly songs and cautionary tales from over the centuries, backed lushly and verdantly by orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro, conducted from the harpsichord by Maxim Emelyanychev. Their eclectic collection makes a solid springboard for her signature blend of dynamism and subtlety.

They open with The Unanswered Question, by Charles Ives, channeling a slowly drifting, organ-like rapture punctuated by moments of disquiet. DiDonato brings a vividly searching quality to Gene Scheer’s contemplation of the need to reconnect with our surroundings in the world premiere recording of Rachel Portman‘s First Morning of the World, the orchestra evoking wind in the trees with gentle, pastoral wave motion.

DiDonato follows with a matter-of-factly soaring rendition of Mahler’s Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft (I Breathed a Gentle Fragrance) and then early 17th century Italian composer Biaggio Marini’s Con le stelle in Ciel che mai (rough translation: Have You Seen the Sun?), an energetically swaying art-folk dance of sorts featuring a starkly emphatic Dmitri Lepekhov violin solo.

A rare 18th century Josef Myslivecek aria has a lively Italian baroque bounce, in considerable contrast to its message of divine retribution, “sure destruction and bitter plagues.” Yikes! A blithe Aaron Copland setting of Emily Dickinson poetry is next.

Baroque composer Giovanni Valentini’s hazy, summery miniature, Sonata enharmonica makes a bridge to a sobering Francesco Cavalli aria from his opera La Callisto. “Does the god of thunder so mercilessly scorch the earth?? For sure. From there, the ensemble flurry through a bracing Gluck dance from the opera Orpheus and Euridice, DiDonato then parsing two increasingly agitated songs of gloom and heartbreak under “the cruelty of a wicked monarch.”

There are three Handel works here: a stately aria from the oratorio Theodora and two fond interludes from the opera Serse. celebrating the enduring beauty of plant life. By contrast, DiDonato pulls back with a lingering angst, “lost to the world,” in the second Mahler song: in its understated way, it packs the biggest punch on the album.  And in Agonies, by Wagner, she speaks directly to the horrors that might await if we don’t stop setting things onfire.

February 22, 2022 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, opera, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Melissa Errico Channels Her Inner Femme Fatale in Her New Film Noir Album

While singer Melissa Errico has always taken a lot of inspiration from film noir, she plunged deeply into the genre after the March, 2020 global coup d’etat. After a year and a half of watching movies, she was able to score enough studio time to record a vast seventeen-track collection of songs associated with noir cinema, Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project, streaming at Spotify. The music here is not particularly lurid: Errico comes from a theatrical background and is keenly aware that singing is acting, so a lot of these songs exist in the margins. Which, considering the genre, makes perfect sense. Even in the big aching crescendos, Errico doesn’t reach for anything more showy than a brittle vibrato.

Tedd Firth supplies flourishes at the piano, guitarist Bob Mann adds spare blues riffage and bassist Lorin Cohen keeps a sotto-voce presence behind Errico’s determined, inscrutable anti-heroine in the opening track, Angel Eyes.

Errico reaches for more towering angst over Firth’s glittery piano, David Mann adding misty sax in their take of With Every Breath I Take, drummer Eric Halvorson a ghostly presence with his brushes.

The band give Errico a slow, pillowy swing for her understated, Dinah Washington-inflected version of Written in the Stars , spiced with a wee-hours sax solo and Scott Wendholt’s spare trumpet.

Errico speaks for the tender but untrue over Firth’s lingering chords in their duo take of The Bad and the Beautiful. Haunted Heart (seriously, is there any other kind?) has the full rhythm section and a more tender, troubled vocal. She finally drops her guard in the descending cadences of Michel Legrand’s lusciously chromatic Amour, Amour, Joe Locke’s vibraphone harmonizing eerily with the piano.

Cellist Richard Locker is a whispery one-man string section in Silent Partner, Errico a forlorn accomplice in her own heartbreak. The album wouldn’t be complete without Farewell, My Lovely, or Laura: Errico gives the former a deadpan allure backed by Locke’s flickering vibes, while the latter gets a velvety bossa arrangement.

She sings Blame It On My Youth with a knowing gravitas, turning it into a wounded reminiscence. Checkin’ My Heart has a brassy cynicism and tinges of klezmer; a little later on, Errico has fun with a time-honored baseball metaphor or two in The Man That Got Away, one of the more expansive tracks here,

The album’s longest number, Detour Ahead has both distant foreboding and an epiphany, as well as some aptly nocturnal trumpet. The shortest one is a spare, tropical guitar-and-vocal version of Shadows and Light. True to the noir tradition, this album isn’t completely unproblematic: the material thins out toward the end, and Errico should have left the French-language material on the cutting room floor. A translator would have come in handy.

February 18, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Gorgeous, Lyrical Middle Eastern-Inspired Jazz Album From Lena Bloch

Tenor saxophonist Lena Bloch‘s latest album Rose of Lifta – streaming at Soundcloud – explores the theme of exile, as articulated by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, someone considerably familiar with the concept. Lifta, the Israeli village referenced in the album title, survived demolition in the 1948 naqba. Let us hope that it will remain intact.

The songs on the album do justice to Darwish, widely regarded during his life as the voice of the Palestinians. Bloch’s Feathery ensemble includes Russ Lossing on piano, Cameron Brown on bass and Billy Mintz on drums. Bloch’s embrace of Middle Eastern modes is strong and striking, and her bandmates clearly relish the chance to play her poignant themes. This could be the most outside-the-box album any of them have ever made.

They open with the epic Promise of Return. Lossing plays lingering, glittering and eventually scrambling riffs as Mintz uses his toms to mimic the boom of a Middle Eastern dumbek. Bloch makes her way through terse, assertive, incisive riffs that wind down to a dusky hush. floating and weaving overhead. Then she hits a crescendo and turns the spotlight over to Brown for an enigmatically prowling solo before the Palestinian theme returns. Tarek Yamani’s work comes to mind. What a gorgeous way to open the album.

Mad Mirror musically reflects two of Darwish’s signature devices: allusion and absence. Listen closely and you can hear Bloch’s poignant, spare opening solo resonating in Lossing’s piano. From there he builds to firm blocks of chords and jauntily rippling phrases as Brown feels the ancient walls for a crevasse or two.

New Home, the first of three Lossing tunes, has a wary swing, disquietingly allusive chordal work and an implied 12/8 groove; the bandleader sits this one out til her warily optimistic solo midway through as Mintz adds subtly shuffling brushwork and Brown anchors it with a subtle, balletesque pulse.

The album’s centerpiece, Climbing Rose of Lifta is a portrait of indomitability, the flower peeking up from inside the piano, Bloch broodingly contemplating the climb ahead over Lossing’s somber glimmer. Mintz signals a sober, marching determination, Bloch pulling the group back to reflectively distant disquiet and a considerably more somber, striding theme.

After Brown runs a catchy solo verse of Old Home, the second Lossing tune, a chill filters in beneath the pianist’s somewhat mutedly hypnotic, otherworldly lines while Bloch threads animatedly in between. more of a poltergeist than a ghost. Lossing’s darkly majestic, shifting modes as he rises and recedes are absolutely luscious.

The quartet return to a march, if more haggardly in Bloch’s final number here, simply titled Mahmoud Darwish. Brown bowine eerie harmonies with Bloch, Mintz driving the weary caravan to an oasis animated by Lossing’s spirals and hammering stairsteps. Bloch emerges resolutely and smolders amid increasing entropy. The majestic climb toward a strong, united front echoes Amir ElSaffar‘s most dramatic recent work.

The album closes with a Lossing number, Wintry Mix, a return to chilly 12/8 empty-room reflection but with more pastoral tinges. Bloch parses steady chromatics over Brown’s terse pedalpoint and Lossing’s splashes and resonance before he takes the theme deeper into the desert, and then out with a flourish. This will resonate thematically with any musically adventurous ex-New Yorker – or ex-Californian, Oregonian, Rhode Islander or anyone else – forced to flee to a new home in one of the free states.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | jazz, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Immersively Rippling Magic From Satoko Fujii and Taiko Saito’s Futari

As marimba player Taiko Saito tells it, pianist Satoko Fujii is the Shohei Ohtani of jazz: a fearsome hitter who is just as formidable on the pitching mound. As the duo Futari, the two musicians put out a magically spacious album, Beyond, last year. Because neither has been able to visit the other due to totalitarian restrictions, they decided to pitch files to each other over the web and then bat them back. They had so much fun doing it that they decided to release these pieces as a follow-up album, Underground, streaming at Bandcamp.

Fujii has always had an otherworldly, mystical side, and she’s gone into that more deeply than ever in the past few years, notably on her rapturous Piano Music album from last year. The title track here continues in that vein, with glissandos, puffy nebulous phrases and ominous drifts beneath a keening drone, Is that bowed marimba, or Fujii under the piano lid? It’s hard to tell. Another layer of mystery, when it comes to who’s playing what, is Fujii’s cut-and-paste vocalese (she also mixed the record).

The album’s second track, Break in the Clouds has puckish accents – Fujii’s prepared piano? – sprinkled throughout Saito’s slow, tremoloing washes of bowed vibraphone. Piano and vibes are distinct in Meerenspiegel, Saito creating a rapt pebbles-in-a-lake atmosphere over Fujii’s stern, emphatic chords and stately cadences. That carefree/serious dichotomy persists throughout most of the record.

Some people will hear the intro to Air and expect to hear Keith Richards’ modal bass riff introducing the Stones’ 2000 Light Years From Home. Instead, what sounds like backward masking gives way to spare, playful pings and bits of melody interspersed with more disquieting textures, then a slow, brightly unfolding melody.

In Frost Stirring, Fujii is grumpy Old Man Winter to Saito’s spring sprite – or Messiaen to Saito’s Joe Locke on the Twin Peaks movie soundtrack. The duo follow the most atmospheric track here, Memory or Illusion with Finite or Infinite, eight minutes of pinging, rhythmically shifting Terry Riley-ish loopmusic.

In Ayasake, after an amusing nightly news theme of sorts, Fujii builds an ominous undercurrent beneath Saito’s resolute blitheness. Saito responds to Fujii’s somber bell-like accents and surreal inside-the-piano swipes with a sepulchral sustain throughout the closing number, Street Ramp, the most striking piece on the album. There’s also a redemptively amusing bonus track, One Note Techno Punks

February 15, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Invitingly Nocturnal Minimalist Sounds From Enona

Atmospheric Brooklyn instrumental duo Enona‘s debut album from last year was the result of a productive collaboration that began with trading files over the web. Auspiciously, they were able to defy the odds and made their second one, Broken – streaming at Bandcamp – in the friendlier confines of a real studio. And as you would hope, there’s more of an immediacy to the music. While it can be downright Lynchian in places, it’s also more warmly optimistic. Kind of like February 2022, huh?

The opening cut, Rekindle sounds like a more organic Julee Cruise backing track, Ron Tucker’s spare, starrily nostalgic piano eventually joined by Arun Antonyraj’s atmospheric washes of guitar and guest Marwan Kanafani’s even more minimalistic Rhodes

Tucker builds a dissociatively psychedelic web of stalactite piano motives over a gentle hailstorm of tremolo-picked guitar in the album’s second track,  Recollections. Track three, Unspoken has a sparse lead piano line over brassy sustain from the guitar that falls away to an unexpected starkness.

Lament, a solo piano piece, is less plaintive than simply a study in dichotomies. The duo revisit a wistful nocturnal ambience in the conclusion, Broke. It’s a good rainy-day late-night listen.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dance Back in Time to a Happier Place with the Gabriel Evan Orchestra

One of the funnest albums to come over the transom here over the past several months is the Gabriel Evan Orchestra‘s latest release, Global Entry, streaming at Bandcamp. The inside of the album booklet shows the bandleader lounging in the shade of a ramshackle backyard in South Williamsburg, where this blog was born in 2007. Aldo’s, and the Southside Lounge, and Rock Star Bar, and innumerable neighborhood fixtures from that time are long gone. But this hot jazz group capture not only the excitement of that era, but of another tropically influenced moment in this city about ninety years ago.

They model themselves after the John Kirby Sextet, the popular 1930s group whose specialty was wry jazz arrangements of classical pieces. Fans of the Ghost Train Orchestra will love this stuff. Trumpeter John Zarsky wafts and buzzes amid the bright harmonies of the bandleader’s alto sax and Joe Goldberg’s clarinet over the sotto-voce pulse of pianist Joe Kennedy. bassist Ben Fox and drummer Michael Voelker. All that’s missing is a comedic Spike Jones rap.

Rumba Azul. the first of two 1930s hits by the Lecuona Cuban Boys, has a dixeland flair balanced by a beat that’s practically reggae. The other is the closing number, Rumba Tambah, following a similar trajectory from a lively bounce to more wary tonalities and back: the group really nail that style’s primitive, minimalistically trebly sound.

For Arabian Nightmare, Evan takes a Charlie Shavers arrangement of a famous Rimsky-Korsakov theme which completely changes the beat and adds a cheery midsection: that piano rhythm, veering from quasi-reggae to mambo, is hilarious. South 5th Street. one of a couple of Evan originals. has a brisk, brassy swing along with carefree clarinet and piano solos before Zarsky romps in with his mute. Evan’s other tune here is Negotiations of South Williamsburg, a slinky hi-de-ho mashup of the Ravel Bolero and a nifty. scampering klezmer tune.

The band go into stripped-down calypso jazz for Diane (Tropical Moon), a vehicle for Zarsky’s soulful trumpet. They make fond midtempo swing out of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s Singin’ the Blues and play Ellington’s Jubilee Stomp with an apt, hokum blues-influenced jubilation in their brief solos.

The band use the same jaunty template for Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes. Then they bring the lights down for an undulating, coyly ornamented take of Henry Mancini’s Lujon. From there, Shavers’ Effervescent Blues, done with a strut and choo-choo riffs, makes a good segue..

February 13, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | Leave a comment

A Subtly Dynamic, Individualistic Live Recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7,

For the last few years, the London Symphony Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda have been releasing live recordings of the complete Shostakovich symphonic cycle, with frequently transcendent results.

Their performance of Symphony No. 4 is as savage and venomous as the composer could have possibly wanted. Their live album with No. 10 is among the most grimly picturesque in recent memory (it’s packaged as a twofer with an aptly deadpan, witheringly cynical version of No. 9).

Interestingly, Noseda’s take on Symphony No. 7, recorded on December 5, 2019 and streaming at Spotify, is much more sleek. Fans of more rugged versions, as Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra have dug into in recent years, may find this lightweight, possibly superficial. But if you love Shostakovich, you may hear things here that you won’t elsewhere.

The backstory is both grim and colorful. The score was smuggled out on microfilm on an American warship; the New York Philharmonic’s North American premiere helped solidify the composer’s reputation here. Back in Stalingrad, in the early days of the siege, Shostakovich joined his local volunteer fire department, but eventually fled the city before the eventual Soviet victory. The party line at the time was that this was more or less a straight-up narrative, Shostakovich’s 1812 Overture. But as we know, he had both barrels aimed at Stalin in just about everything he wrote. Noseda and the orchestra bring to life a lot more here beyond those two general plotlines.

What Noseda has done is to dial up a vast dynamic range that errs on the side of caution. There are moments where the orchestra are no more than a whisper, The first movement here comes across as more of a “what happened to my city” tableau, most notably via Daniel Jemison’s poignantly reflective oboe solo toward the end. For New Yorkers in particular (and until recently, Londoners), this carries enormous if quiet emotional resonance. The dialogue between blithe flute and chuffing cellos is muted, but Noseda uses that as a springboard to wring irresistible humor from the oboe/bassoon conversation immediately afterward. And it doesn’t seem snarky, although that seems more of a possibility in the Gershwinesque fugue that follows.

Noseda finally brings out the artillery for a strange pageant of a march, more of a war movie than an actual war and an interpretation that the cinephile composer probably would have loved. One plausible interpretation that’s been widely promoted over the years is that the theme is a paraphrase of a song from one of Hitler’s favorite operas.

The string section takes over the distant drum riffage in the second movement, Olivier Stankiewicz’s plaintive oboe bringing back a visceral sense of absence and loss. From there we get one of Shostakovich’s signature danses macabres, executed with considerable grace, then a return to wistfulness with the exchanges between harp and bassoon.

Hypnotically circling brass and warmly enveloping woodwinds almost subsume the persistent, bellicose rhythm deep beneath the third movement: this is where it would have been most beneficial for Noseda to pump up the volume a little. But the eerie chromatic theme afterward – which the composer recycled for maximum horror in his String Quartet No. 8 – makes a grisly contrast. Similarly, sotto-voce Romantic escapism gives way to a more sober, windswept, wintry reality.

Noseda and the orchestra finally raise that dichotomy to an efficiently robust if not overwhelming angst in the final movement, up to a surgically spiraling mountainscape straight out of Moussorgsky. In the dream sequence that follows, the drums of war slow to halfspeed and the intruders seem to slink off without much fanfare. The heroic coda is so straightforward that it’s suspicious.

February 9, 2022 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment