Review: Seattle Symphony premieres by Kinan Azmeh and Chen Yi

Posted on: February 15, 2019

“Two years ago, the Seattle Symphony offered an impromptu concert titled ‘Music Beyond Borders: Voices from the Seven’ to give a platform to artists” from countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban, writes Thomas May in Monday’s (2/11) MusicalAmerica.com (subscription required). “Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh was able to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad with the Silk Road Ensemble [to perform] Suite for Improvisor at that Seattle concert [leading] to the request to write a new concerto for the orchestra…. On February 6, Azmeh came back to Benaroya Hall to perform as the soloist in his ambitious new work, commissioned for the SSO by touring company Classical Movements…. Azmeh’s Clarinet Concerto is written for Western orchestra…. The music inhabits a unique and unpredictable world in which memories of East and West intermingle alluringly…. The most thrilling music came in the final section, as Azmeh coaxed everyone to follow his lead toward a sustained pitch of ecstatic release…. The program included a second world premiere…. With its brash, bold, and moody gestures, Chen Yi’s Introduction, Andante and Allegro channeled something of the spirit of Peking Opera mingled with Bartók.” Also on the program was Caroline Shaw’s recent Watermark.

Posted February 15, 2019