Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
Beethoven: Symphony No 2 in D Major
Rossini: Stabat Mater
Concert Chorale of New York
Maria Agresta: Soprano
Daniela Barcellona: Mezzo-soprano
Gregory Kunde: Tenor
Kyle Ketelsen: Bass-baritone
After paying my dues to Mozart with Ivan Fischer’s immensely enjoyable Nozze di Figaro at the Rose Theater on Sunday, I barely had time to catch my breath before moving on to lesser-known works by Beethoven and Rossini at the Avery Fisher Hall on Tuesday night. My main motivation for that choice had been the opportunity to hear Rossini’s rarely performed Stabat Mater. Since I tend to associate the popular Italian master to melody-filled but substance-lacking operas, I was certainly intrigued by the idea of hearing a composition of his that by definition should be a totally different kind of work. And the presence of Beethoven is always welcome in any concert, especially since this time I would be able to reacquaint myself with his less consequential but still appealing Symphony No 2.
After Mozart's exquisite daintiness, Beethoven’s solemn then fierce opening started the evening with plenty of assertive sounds. Mostly known in New York for his semi-regular conducting at the Met, Gianandrea Noseda proved to be equally comfortable being in charge of a symphonic concert. His muscular approach to Beethoven was not just about brilliantly plowing through the entire piece, which the Allegro originally made me fear, but quickly turned out to be refreshing and infectious as well. Besides, he took the time to let the more leisurely Larghetto beautifully expand and blossom. The festival orchestra responded with plenty of organic vitality on their own and the result was a vibrant, larger-than-life performance that concluded on a happily resounding note.
Rossini’s Stabat Mater had a rather convoluted genesis, but suffice it to say that the version we heard on Tuesday night was the final one and all Rossini. And he had every reason not to give up on this complex, yet easily accessible and downright riveting work. Not getting carried away by either the religious theme or the operatic scope of the composition, Gianandrea Noseda had apparently decided to play it straight and simply emphasize the intrinsic musical quality of the work. The melodies magnificently unfolded, the harmonies dramatically shone, and the various elements all came together for a glorious hymn to the grieving Mother of Christ. The four remarkable soloists as well as the flawless Concert Chorale of New York also contributed enormously in making this laudable endeavor a memorable success. The audience may have been sparse here and there, but it is probably a safe bet to assume that most of its members, if not all, left the hall very satisfied.
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