We welcome this review from guest contributor Sophia Vastek, who was helpfully filling in for your ailing moderator.
In many ways, the National Symphony Orchestra’s concert last night, conducted by Lorin Maazel, showcased a musical return to true sincerity and a lack of presumption. It was a delightful program all around: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was the featured soloist, performing Barber’s Violin Concerto, which was matched with Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Franck’s Symphony in D minor, and a work by Maazel himself, based on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The concert opened with Rimsky-Korsakov’s time-worn arrangement of Mussorgsky’s programmatic work, and with startlingly tight ensemble playing. Maazel is certainly a minimalist when it comes to his conducting style, and, like it or not, the orchestra responded with crisp rhythmic integrity, making for an exciting performance of a work that might otherwise leave something to be desired in the way of substance.
Salerno-Sonnenberg played the Barber Concerto with utmost earnestness, passionate and so clearly intelligent, albeit a bit messy in a few places (but notes aren’t everything after all). Her ability to communicate with and weave in and out of the orchestra was truly remarkable, especially in the beginning of the second movement. She emerged from the orchestra from nothing – literally nothing, leaving the audience clinging to their seats until her sound gained more substance and gracefully exited the orchestra’s aural fold. She was a collaborator in the truest sense of the word, and it was refreshing to see in a soloist.
Anne Midgette, Maazel and National Symphony: No Technical Difficulties (Washington Post, October 16)
This concert will be repeated this evening (October 17, 8 pm), in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.