Thursday, October 13, 2022

Der Grosse Sendesaal im NDR Landesfunkhaus Niedersachsen, Rudolf-von-Bennigsen-Ufer 22, Hannover

“Hier kommt Leonard Slatkin”. I got that bit of the German from this live radio broadcast. Cindy McTee’s Double Play (2010) is in two movements – ‘The Unquestioned Answer’ & ‘Tempus Fugit’ – a slow, tense opener, shadowy and eruptive, a titular play on Charles Ives’s celestial piece albeit musically self-sufficient (if with this listener’s thoughts turning occasionally to the Copland of Inscape and the sombreness of Christopher Rouse), and then percussion flourishes, not least clock-like sounds, cue fast, driven music – after all, time flies – with big-band brass, although there is a return to earlier musing before a whirlwind finish. The twenty-minute Double Play received an excellent performance – characterful solos in the first part, exhilarating virtuosity in the second.

As centrepiece, Harriet Krijgh (Dutch) played the compact A-minor Cello Concerto of Saint-Saëns, full of attractive ideas. As heard over the airwaves, Krijgh doesn’t cultivate the fullest of tones, although she is very accurate with the notes themselves, and if she slowed too much in the first section of this Concerto of continuous play there was attractive lightness in the dance-like second and eloquence in the expressive passages, but whether she emerged with enough personality from the alert and detailed accompaniment is a question I pose and have just hinted at my answer. However, Krijgh’s encore, the ‘Sarabande’ from J. S. Bach’s First Cello Suite, had a winning simplicity yet was also a profound utterance.

Following the interval, Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, ‘From the New World’, received a fresh and considered performance, perhaps demarking the tripartite structure of the exposition (repeated) a little too much if going on to deliver the music’s fire and soul in spades, especially so in the Largo – spacious, deeply-felt and with a poetic cor anglais solo, a time-taken traversal that expressed so much, subtly shaded, followed by a bouncy Scherzo (glinting woodwinds) and a perky and cooing Trio at-one with its surrounds, rounded by a jubilant-exuberant-reflective-majestic-jazzy Finale (with revelations in the bassoon line along the way). Good to hear this old musical friend again (one of my earliest discoveries, Ormandy’s LSO recording for CBS, I played the LP every day for a fortnight) given without contempt for its familiarity and handsomely sound-staged by NDR.

Double Play in Detroit; June 6, 2017:

Behind the scenes of the Indianapolis Violin Competition – Leonard Slatkin’s October Journal.