Saturday, March 10, 2012

American Mavericks I

Last night's performance of the first American Mavericks orchestral program can be summed up briefly and easily:

  • Copland, Orchestral Variations. Even in MTT's own expanded version of Copland's orchestration of his seminal Piano Variations, its origins show. A great work for piano, it doesn't work so well as an orchestral piece.
  • Harrison, Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra. Amiable, entertaining, fun, well-performed, and not his best.
  • Ives/Brant, A Concord Symphony. Wow. Staggering; a brilliantly done orchestration of a gigantic, thorny, wonderful piece. Such a great orchestration that you cannot tell it started as a piano piece.


Civic Center said...

I heard the concert on Thursday and think you're undervaluing both the Copland and the Harrison. I've been bored silly by just about every Copland piece I've heard live in the last couple of years, so the Orchestral Variations came as a wonderful surprise: weird, spiky, "modern" sounding while still being recognizably Copland. Don't know the original piano so my reaction wasn't colored by that.

I remember hearing the Harrison piece at the 2000 Mavericks and not being that impressed, but on Thursday it both lulled and knocked me out, which was surprising became I'm not a big fan of either the organ or percussion ensembles. The precision of the playing was also extraordinary. As for the "not his best" characterization, you could just as easily have said "not his worst." What do you think IS his best, by the way?

The Ives/Brant is great, but way too assaultive for my tastes. I found myself happy in the middle of the second movement when we were in the middle of a soft, slow hymn that sounded almost proto-Gorecki before the damned marching bands started again.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Re Harrison, not sure I could say what's his best, but I consider the violin concerto better than the Organ etc.

Brian said...

Now see, I think the issue is that your over-valuing the Ives which still left me wanting the piano sonata more than ever.

Otherwise I'm with you and considering the show that followed, feel even more strongly that this first program felt decidedly more tired than it should have.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Ahaha, I am IN THE MIDDLE.

Joe Barron said...

Joe Barron said...

I am the greatest Ives fan there is, and I dislike the Concord Symphony. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't hold up next to the original. Besides, Ives already orchestrated the Hawthorne Movement: It's the 2nd movement of the Fourth Symphony. Or maybe I should hear the MTT CD. The premiere recording is none too exciting.

And at least MTT has programed some unusual Copland. The Philadelphia Orchestra has scheduled an all-American program for next year, and the Copland that been selected is - wait for it - Appalachian Spring!