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New York

Music review: Albany Symphony hits its stride with Rachmaninoff after uneven start

The Albany Symphony Orchestra offered a Saturday live performance on the Palace Theater in a program of nice selection however with typically inconsistent outcomes.

They started with Duke Ellington’s suite from The River. Commissioned by the American Ballet Theater in 1970 for choreographer Alvin Ailey, Ellington wrote 12 actions, of which Ailey used solely seven. However, ASO solely carried out 5 of them. They have been all impressed by water or the course of a stream by way of varied levels corresponding to a waterfall, whirlpool or rapids.

For individuals acquainted with Ellington’s jazz items, this work could be very completely different. Only one of many actions, quantity three, would fulfill jazz followers with its harmonies, horn riffs, use of percussion and light-hearted temper. Coincidentally, this transfer was alleged to signify Giggling Rapids.

The different actions, particularly one, 4, 5 and 7, have been very completely different in type, concord, color, tempo and the whole lot else. The work started with sweeping strains and dissonance for “Spring”. Four was an unique “Lake” with basses, flutes, a cymbal swab, trombones towards plucked cellos, maracas and a quite romantic melody that was very cinematic. Five was a quick, brief “vortex” with snare drum patterns rippling alongside. Seven had a brass refrain which the strings then took over for “Village of the Virgins”.

One can solely think about what Ailey did to the music, which appeared to set the temper greater than one thing to bop to. The orchestra, below music director David Alan Miller, didn’t really feel completely snug, maybe as a result of there was little continuity inside and between segments.

Things went higher in Joel Thompson’s To Awaken the Sleeper, which premiered in Colorado in August 2021. Inspired by phrases written by James Baldwin over a interval from 1970 to 1986, the work required a narrator, which Thompson supplied from reminiscence. The lyrics he chooses are astonishingly topical and considerate about race, democracy, migrants within the halls of justice and the necessity for a brand new morality.

The music ranged from a loud mayhem to lyrical settings. For probably the most half, Thompson’s resonant baritone got here by way of. The orchestra sounded good. The viewers responded with cheers, whistles and standing ovations from many.

In Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances”, nonetheless, the orchestra acquired going. You have been fabulous on this extremely troublesome three-movement work written by Rachmaninoff in 1941. It was his final composition and an exquisite masterpiece. The terribly clear voice main was impressed and exquisite. His use of shade, rhythm, his signature romantic lyricism with catchy melodies, even the moods have been radiant.

Miller carried out with ardour and precision. There was additionally a way of exuberance among the many gamers who have been being challenged by the components and getting concerned.

Every motion had its personal language. In the primary, after a vigorous, rhythmic variety of bars by the total orchestra, the woodwind alone took over. In an impressed alternative, Rachmaninoff had a saxophone because the melodic lead in a gently flowing melody earlier than the strings took over.

The second motion was a seductive waltz with swirling reeds, a sensuous cor anglais solo with mild strings, and Miller coaxed and pushed the tempi by way of the composer’s sudden moments.

The finale was stuffed with shade and vibrancy because it rushed to a strong conclusion. The viewers liked it, as did Miller, who labored his manner by way of the orchestra, praising every part.

On December tenth and eleventh it is the Christmas classics in Troy with Bach, Mozart and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.

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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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