BroadwayWorld: TŌN with Tan Dun at Jazz At Lincoln Center

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“A student gave an introduction to each of the works on the program. All four were personable and well-spoken, particularly Weiqiao Wu. Mr. Wu introduced the highlight of the concert, world-renowned composer and conductor  Tan Dun’s Violin Concerto: Rhapsody and Fantasia 2009What might have been a somewhat knotty, impenetrable contemporary piece was made more accessible through Mr.Wu’s explanation.

The brilliant soloist Ms. Eldbjørg Hemsing brought the music to life, articulating each note with precision and richly dynamic expression. No mere walk in the park for the violinist, this highly rhythmic, complex work allowed each section of the orchestra to shine. The lovely, warm string sound was especially appealing. There was a large percussion battery that included Chinese gongs which bent the music into inimitable Eastern sounds. Mr. Dun’s direction of the orchestra was clearly defined and dynamic. The orchestral response was instantaneous, which meant that all eyes were not only on the music, but on Mr. Dun as well. For the listener, this piece was imaginative, engaging, and downright fun to experience.

The Rhapsody for Clarinet by Claude Debussy featured TŌN clarinet soloist Viktor Tóth. Mr. Tóth’s sensitive playing was at times somewhat melancholy and nostalgic. His ability to sustain long phrases on seemingly one breath without a lapse of pitch or support was astonishingly beautiful. At all times the orchestra provided a shimmering yet delicate background for the soloist.

The Miraculous Mandarin Suite by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was the final work of the day. This ballet begins with an authoritative trombone solo and goes on to showcase all sections of the orchestra. There were several standout section soloists, which included the aforementioned trombone and some lovely oboe playing.” – Joanna Barouch

Photo by Patrick Arias

Cadenza: The Sight and Sound of Vallotton and Honegger

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“Botstein has become the city’s preeminent music educator, a music historian to the people; each concert is a veritable course in music appreciation. TŌN’s valuable Sight & Sound series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art enhances the audience’s cultural cachet, providing context for both music and visual art.

The first movement of [Honegger’s Symphony No. 1] grabs the listener by the ear and doesn’t let go. Its rhythmically charged, angular lines recall Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. TŌN’s virtuosic string section played with vibrant electricity, clarity, and definition. The brass section is world class. As the fast-paced music builds in emphasis, the horns contribute stunning section playing. Muted trumpet solos soar, or comment wryly. The celli, basses, and percussion maintain the integrity of the motoric pulse, grooving along with daring march. TŌN excels at crystalline intonation in complex, kaleidoscopic harmonies.

The middle movement, Adagio, is the heart of the piece. TŌN’s woodwinds make cohesive drama in slithery, sinuous dialogue. Again, the horns, with their powerful, round tone and unfailing stamina, play with maturity beyond their years. Botstein, subtly balancing dynamics, draws focused imagery from many planes of texture.

The finale, Presto-Andante tranquillo, begins adventurously, the trumpets achieving athletic feats, the trombones interjecting ironically with admirable taste. Each section of the orchestra gets put through its paces, and TŌN’s musicians collaborate skillfully, acing tight harmonies and textures.” – Brian Taylor

Photo by David DeNee