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I’m glad that associate conductor Rossen Milanov weighed in at the Orchestra’s Bernstein Festival with the excerpts from Lenny’s On the Town Suite, sharpening its jazzier counterpoints. And star draw violinist Joshua Bell combined Bernstein’s Maria and Tonight from West Side Story, ungratuituously, tapping into music on the American cultural hard drive and giving it a spin around as part of his concert rep in front of the world’s orchestras.
Actually, all that was filler to Bell’s execution of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, which Milanov renders into a three-act perpetuo of classicism. Bell’s ability to edge on Romanticism in look and sound is just the calling card for his illumination of Barber’s American expressionism. Bell’s cued supple and robust exchanges with the Orchestra and the tonal intersections were a revelation within this work.
Milanov piloted an absolutely breathtaking performance of Stravinsky’s ballet score for Petrushka. He cut the tether of its ballet evocation and made it a dazzling display of Stravinsky’s richest narrative blood. The Orchestra surfed through Stravinsky’s theatricality and exposed the score’s pan-European musical roots.
Kiyoko Takeuti’s crisp rendition of the piano solos that normally accompany Petrushka’s dances were subtler and redefined the character of the work. Other cameo instrumentals were idiosyncratically executed and sleekly framed by Milanov and his musicians. Milanov demonstrated that he is a specialist in exploring early 20th-Century European musicality. He was equally potent when igniting the sonic striations within the grandeur of Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade last summer at the Mann.
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