Saturday, November 4, 2023

Orchestra Hall, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

Music from Falla’s score for The Three-Cornered Hat, Suite No.2, to begin, lilting rhythms and airy textures at first, then incisive characterisation with train-like acceleration, and the ‘Final Dance’ was an open-air, exuberant envoi – DSO in top form – and complemented later in the concert by another Diaghilev-commissioned ballet composition, Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1947), for which Joana Carneiro, using the 1947 publication, and with consistently well-judged tempos, once again secured a precise and brilliant response (tutti and solo) to create a palpable theatrical narrative full of orchestral and descriptive incident – a page-turner of a performance.

As centrepiece, Mason Bates’s 2014 co-commissioned Cello Concerto written for Joshua Roman. It’s a very likeable work, lyrical and playful, qualities not suspected from the tense opening, the full orchestra (woodwinds from piccolo to contrabassoon, colourful percussion, and piano, harp and celesta) always in the picture without obscuring the cello – Joshua Roman relaxed and delighted with his role – and he added affection for the Grazioso second movement, music that glows, whereas the Finale canters and syncopates, then increasing the tempo and the number of notes that lead to a big finish. Roman, the DSO, and Carneiro made an interactive and charismatic team for this inventive and imaginative twenty-five-minute opus that was a pleasure to encounter. Roman’s encore, singing and playing, was Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. Quite striking. It follows.