From chamber music which re-works a Baroque master’s keyboard pieces to a masterful interpretation of a titan amongst the orchestral repertoire, The Metropolitan Orchestra (TMO) presented yet another inspiring concert in the 2015 Met Concert series.
This concert opened with Elena Kats-Chernin’s innovative musings on JS Bach’s Two Part Inventions for keyboard. The work transforms selected inventions into a chamber music treat for wind soloist and strings. Originally conceived for recorders and strings, this Met Concert version premiered the works performance on piccolo, flute and alto flute by TMO principal Svetlana Yaroslavskaya.
Re-Inventions (2004) was a charming way to open the concert. TMO strings were focused accompanists. They complemented the various timbral shifts from the soloist as fragments from Bach’s inventions were meditated upon or worked to a delightful and well-executed frenzy.
The alto flute version of the expressive Invention No.4 in D minor was exquisitely played. The piccolo fireworks for both the opening Re-invention (re-working No. 8 in F major) and the set’s finale (based on No.10 in G major) dazzled as they extended the motifs familiar to generations of piano students.
By quite a savage programming contrast, this concert’s second half was taken up completely with Rachmaninoff’s large-scale Symphony No.2 (1908). Performed without cuts to the score, from which this work has suffered from in the past, the audience was kept captivated by the calibre of playing and the great sense of drama.
Despite the challenges of huge forces required to play this emotional roller-coaster of a work, fine choices by conductor Sarah-Grace Williams with regard to tempo, balance and maintenance of musical line brought an impressive clarity to the score. The organic growth, forward swoop and individual character of each large movement were a pleasure to experience.
TMO indicated once more in this year’s Met Series that it is an orchestra possessing reliable stamina. Even with extra instruments required to play this musical Everest from Rachmaninoff, TMO’s neat synchronicity, precision and unity of tone have never been better.
In this symphony, many soloists from TMO continued the fine solo display from TMO principal Svetlana Yaroslavskaya during the earlier Kats-Chernin work. In particular, clarinetist Andrew Doyle delivered seamless and eloquent solo moments in the third movement adagio. Penetrating cor anglais solos from Alex Fontaine were also expertly shaped and played.
TMO’s rendition of this symphony offered some stunning climaxes as well as controlled moments of solid restraint. A memorable example of joyous full orchestral texture was the vibrant opening of the second movement allegro. These energetic broad strokes resonated for a long time afterward.
This entire Met concert contained solid interpretation and attention to detail regardless of each works’ intricacies. Whether it was the TMO’s intimate, elegant chamber music or an orchestral narrative on a massive scale, the works from this versatile orchestra entertained and thrilled the audience.
The TMO’s final Met Concert for 2015 takes place at the ABC Centre on November 15. Prior to this the TMO will perform Peter and The Wolf on October 4-5, before it joins the Bravo Cruise of the Performing Arts later that month.