Friday, May 28, 2010

KAHANE'S PENULTIMATE WEEKEND

Jeffrey Kahane will be leaving the Colorado Symphony after next week. This is a sad occasion for the orchestra and its fans. A large group turned out for tonight's concert. As always, it was a great program, albeit long.

The first piece was On The Transmigration of Souls, John Adams' elegy for 9/11. Almost nine years later, the piece is still very moving. John Adams is one of my favorite contemporary composers, and he was in the audience for the concert. It's difficult listening. The piece uses audio recordings of New York City pedestrians, as well as actors reading a list of the deceased (still referred to as "missing" in this piece), and text from the fliers posted by loved ones searching for their lost family members. It's really a brilliant piece in many ways. It is not minimalist, but not completely atonal either. To my ear much of it seemed bitonal, as though two keys were fighting each other throughout the piece. The piece also used both a children's and an adult chorus. I have no idea how the children learned such a difficult work, but it sounded great.

It was a necessity to follow such a dark and difficult work with something spiritually uplifting. Kahane chose another piece performed after the 9/11 attacks, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven. This is one of those pieces that no matter how many times I hear it, it is a moving experience. Beethoven had quite a sense of humor, in the piece he frequently interrupts himself to quote earlier sections of the piece for no reason, then goes back to the theme at hand.

Kahane did a nice job with it, picking sprightly tempi for the most part, particularly in the scherzo. In fact it was a bit too fast for the horns. The trumpets had a few clams, and in the finale the soprano cracked her high note, but overall it was a fantastic performance. The fourth movement in particular was very moving. The celli and bass introduction of the "Ode to Joy" was as beautifully played as I have ever heard it. And the baritone soloists (aside from overacting a bit with his face) was, exhibiting a wide vocal range of emotion and projecting fully.

Next week we will say goodbye to him with the Mahler fifth. I look forward to the concert, but not to his departure.
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