In Monday’s (12/6) Miami Herald, David Fleshler writes, “The English composer and conductor Oliver Knussen served as the genial, garrulous guide Saturday as the New World Symphony performed a bracing set of unfamiliar works from the 20th and 21st centuries. … The Matthews Violin Concerto, receiving its U.S. premiere, was performed with fire and incisive musical intelligence by the adventurous Canadian-born virtuoso Leila Josefowicz. In program notes, [composer Colin] Matthews explained that ‘the concerto is not designed as a showpiece.’ Yet several sections of the two-movement work seemed to be all flash, with Matthews allowing the violin to show off rapid-fire arpeggios, chords and passagework without any clear musical point. In the first movement, the violin plays rhapsodic passages over a restless accompaniment in the orchestra. The violin’s tone becomes more aggressive, with spiky chords and figures establishing an opposition to the orchestra. The second movement was the more interesting, with brooding tones on the instrument’s lowest string over dirge-like notes in the orchestra. … Josefowicz combined an improvisatory style with iron technical control.” The program was rounded out by Scriabin’s Settings, American composer Sean Shepherd’s Wanderlust, and Symphony No. 10 by Nikolai Miaskovsky.
December 8, 2010