Saturday, May 19, 2018

two concerts

Peninsula Symphony, last weekend, reviewed. I got the score of the Elgar Cello Concerto out of the library to follow along, because I tend to consider this work, like most of Elgar's more ambitious compositions, a featureless wad.

Without review assignment, I went to hear the New Century Chamber Orchestra last night. This was so that I could hear Philip Glass's new Piano Concerto No. 3, which dedicatee Simone Dinnerstein has been taking around the country on a premiere tour.

This could have been asking for trouble, because a dozen years ago I heard his Piano Concerto No. 2 at Cabrillo, and was not impressed: uninspired noodling with astonishingly bad sonic balance. But No. 3 was much better, as hypnotically entrancing a work as Glass has ever composed. It's a very long work and could have been longer as far as I was concerned, mostly slow and quiet. The Glassian figurations are confined to the string orchestra, which never drowns out the piano even when the strings are busy and the piano is playing slow chords, which it often is. The chordal work was dominant in the piano part, and only the harmonic progressions were a sure giveaway of Glass's hand. At times it sounded like a string work with piano obbligato, at others like pianist and orchestra were playing entirely separate works simultaneously.

Dinnerstein also played Bach's G Minor concerto (more familiar in its violin form, in which it's in A Minor), which she's been taking along with the Glass. The orchestra also played Purcell's Chacony, a Corellian concerto grosso by Geminiani, and Bryce Dessner's Aheym, a raw-sounding little piece that's far more "minimalist" in style than anything Glass has written since around the time that Dessner, who's 42, was in elementary school.

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