I don’t remember ever having the PSO performing two world premieres
in the same concert. Adding to the feast, the fact that both composers,
Jennifer Higdon and Lucas Richman were commissioned by the orchestra. To my mind, it reflects on the excellency of the PSO and the conductor, Sir Andrew Davis,
as well on the supreme virtuosity of the soloists. I hope that it also
reflects on us, the audience: appreciating contemporary music "in a
high dosage". Congratulations!
Still, the program started with two established pieces: Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations which charmed me with it’s playfulness and captured my imagination, and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Stories, bringing back memories of a powerful & tragic eternal story.
My first reaction to Higdon’s Concerto for Trombone and Richman’s Concerto for Oboe
was a high degree of satisfaction and interest. These two compositions,
however, affected me differently. The Trombone Concerto spoke to my
intellect, the Concerto for Oboe spoke to my emotions. I wish to listen
again to both and I hope that the first emotional impact will remain,
even deepen, and the cerebral reaction will gain an emotional dimension.
I was captured by the virtuosity of both Peter Sullivan’s Magic Trombone and Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeda‘ singing, even praying oboe. Interestingly, both "fit" my reaction to the two concertos. Sullivan played as though confirming the highest unforeseen abilities of his instrument with the orchestra supporting his virtuosity. Cynthia’s virtuosity was a wonderful journey through the composer’s feelings, as though they became one.