Tuesday, November 16, 2010

RSO Masterworks: Shatin, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Copland

My review of this past weekend's RSO Masterworks concert ran in Monday's Times-Dispatch. Shatin's "Jefferson, In His Own Words" was the headline work; Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Saint-Saens' Cello Concert No. 2 and Dvorak's Symphony No. 6 were also on the program.

Re-reading my review, I'm not sure why I felt I had to make the point that Baliles spoke clearly; that should be expected. What I wanted to say, but didn't have the brainpower to formulate properly on deadline, had to do with the simplicity of his delivery. He didn't over-inflect, and didn't need to; we weren't children gathered round a chair at storytime. As I listened, I took a few moments to imagine what it might sound like if he had crafted a more dramatic--or perhaps one might say a more musical--narrative style, and that made me even more appreciative of his choices.

Probably imprudently, I also imagined what else the Dvorak symphony could have sounded like--thus my review's closing comment. I don't know the sixth symphony well enough to know what has or hasn't been, or should or shouldn't be done with it, but it seems to me if you're going to pick a composer to rough up a bit, Dvorak is a good candidate. Take some risks, show me the difference between playing music and just performing it.

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