I heard the Orchestra of St. Luke's with Roberto Abbado and violinist Joshua Bell Sunday afternoon at Carnegie Hall.
1. The program began with a new reworking of Joan Tower's String Quartet, In Memory for string orchestra. It certainly plays on the strengths of St. Luke's, with plenty of delicate passages along with powerful lines, all played musically in this new setting. If history repeats itself, Joan will win the Pulitzer Prize for Music with it, ala John Corigliano's Second Symphony/String Quartet. In Memory is certainly deserving!
2. Josh Bell then played a rousing Barber Violin Concerto. It was just right, not too fast, not too slow, nice balances and beautifully phrased.
3. After intermission came the world premiere of Jay Greenberg's Violin Concerto. It's a one movement work that has brilliant orchestra colors. In fact, the orchestral part is far more engaging than the violin part. Greenberg, a fifteen year old composer, has made great levels of improvement from his Fifth Symphony and String Quintet. The Violin Concerto is much more of an individual voice and has much promise, I've heard rumors of more orchestral and concerti commissions - hear hear!
4. The program finished on a high note, Haydn's Symphony #93. This "London" Symphony also showed off the OSL to it's musical strengths: long, well crafted phrases, spot on ensemble and good humor (kudos to the bassoons and timpani!) Hearing Haydn with the Orchestra of St. Luke's is a hallmark of Western Civilization. In a word, divine.
5. I must point out what a joy Roberto Abbado is on the podium. He gives his all for the music. And it was evident in every piece, how much he loved the music, and the result was wonderful. As the World Series names an MVP, Sunday afternoon would have surely named Abbado for OSL.
OSL will be back @ Carnegie with Helene Grimaud with music by Beethoven and Ades - don't miss it!