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12.1.07

A NSO Post Christmas Gift: Hindemith

Leila Josefowicz is among the most popular American violinists of her generation – attractive with her mix of quality violinsmanship and varied repertoire. Playing the 1939 Hindemith concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra makes her more popular with Ionarts, for sure, although a sparsely filled Kennedy Center Concert Hall may have been an indication that Hindemith is not much of a draw, even when innovatively packed into an intriguing mix of Johann Strauss, Schubert, and Mahler. But the Hindemith is a wonderful concerto – easily the highlight of the concert – even when its abrasive sounds (mainly in the first movement) may still be too much for neophyte ears and it deserves more attention. About time then that the NSO has dusted off its scores after playing it last (and only) time 32 years ago. Between the very lyrical, freewheeling, and Teutonic-massive; tonal but modern, this work has much to offer the listener, challenging the soloist in the bargain. The NSO played as alert and fresh as Ms. Josefowicz who brought brilliance and energy in spades to the concerto.

Other Reviews:

Daniel Ginsberg, NSO Taps Into Germanic Richness (Washington Post, January 12)
In Schubert’s “Unfinished” Eighth Symphony, the orchestra was well administered by Leonard Slatkin through it all – with a deliberate beginning, but altogether light and speedy. Mahler’s Adagio from the Tenth Symphony (Maestro Slatkin ambitiously thinks about creating his own performing version of the Tenth) opened with a sour chord but was loving and tenderly played for the most part. A few moments dragged and the strings were smooth but perhaps slightly shallow; the chord-gates to (atonal?) hell were unthreatening. Brisk and light, the Emperor Waltz was just the delightful kind of mint on the pillow that it ought to be after the rather heavy (if extremely satisfying) fare of the Hindemith concerto. Very charming indeed – and repeated today, Friday, at 7PM and on Saturday at 8PM.

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