Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'Beethoven and Blue Jeans'

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Wu Mann performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for the "Beethoven and Blue Jeans" concert.
  • Wu Mann performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for the "Beethoven and Blue Jeans" concert.

Wu Mann performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for the Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert.
  • Wu Mann performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra for the "Beethoven and Blue Jeans" concert.

The “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” event has become an annual feature of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's season. This year Beethoven was given short shrift, his music restricted to the seldom performed "Creatures of Prometheus Overture," which was the curtain raiser. It was given a spirited reading, highlighted by spritely performances by the woodwinds.

The featured work was Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever-popular "Scheherazade," a musical exploration of the Arabian Nights tales. I had heard it in live performance some years ago, but the rendition Saturday evening was like hearing it for the first time. The ensemble work was flawless. The dynamics from the softest to the loudest sections were right on. The brass choir was as good as that in any world famous orchestra. The percussion, of which I have been critical from time to time, blended with the other instruments perfectly. And the multiple solos were all exemplary. Special mention, however, must be given to Kiril Laskarov, the orchestra’s concertmaster. His solo violin represents the voice of Scheherazade throughout the piece; and his playing was sublime, especially the double stops in the final section, which were played with a superb purity of tone.

Also on the program was Tan Dun’s "Concerto for Pipa and String Orchestra," with Wu Mann as soloist. The pipa is a Chinese stringed instrument, similar to the western lute. I must admit that I approached the work without enthusiasm, but hearing the concerto was a fascinating experience. Its four movements, played practically without pause, opens with a foot stomp by the musicians followed by a bass motif introducing combined oriental and occidental sounds. There is no percussion in the instrumentation, but percussive effects are achieved throughout in the double basses and by having the members of the orchestra shout or bump. Also the violas, usually relegated to a strictly secondary role, are given a major part to play. I found the third adagio movement particularly interesting, starting as it does with a lovely European-style melody that is later given a very Asian connotation.

The orchestra players shed their usual white ties in favor of blue jeans and ASO Razorback-red T shirts. What else? The audience, mostly also in blue jeans, seemed quite a bit larger than usual. Way to go?

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Maddie's Place makes a believer out of a skeptic

    August 19, 2015
    After a long hiatus, I return to Maddie's Place in Riverdale and find the food is a lot tastier than I remembered. /more/
  • Signal Media responds to Heartbeat 106.7 feedback: Not about 'playing great music'

    August 18, 2015
    There has been an overwhelming response to the loss of Heartbeat 106.7 FM since the station changed formats last week, renaming itself 106.7 The Ride and shifting to a New Country format. As we noted Friday, a Facebook group had been started in protest, "Bring Back Heartbeat 106.7." When I spoke to program director Mike Kennedy, he seemed unconcerned about this perspective — noting that the group had only "58 likes." /more/
  • Stevie Wonder is coming to Verizon Arena

    August 14, 2015
    Mark your calendars: THV reports that Stevie Wonder will be stopping in North Little Rock on his fall tour, on November 6. No word yet from Verizon Arena, but the date has been announced online. Until then, here's a haunting video of Wonder on the talkbox: /more/
  • Grand Funk Railroad, Naughty By Nature, Styx and more to headline 2015 Arkansas State Fair

    August 14, 2015
    The Arkansas State Fair, which will be held October 9-18, has announced its musical headliners for this year's event: Montgomery Gentry, Eddie Money, Silk, Styx, Toni! Tony! Tone'!, Pop Evil, Grand Funk Raildroad, Joe Diffie and Naughty By Nature. /more/
  • What happened to Heartbeat 106.7?

    August 14, 2015
    My favorite radio station died this week, and I didn't even notice. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Heartbeat 106.7 FM, "The Beat of the City," switched over to a New Country format, and was re-branded as 106.7 The Ride. Anyone expecting The Isley Brothers or Bill Withers or  Michael Jackson or The SOS Band will have to settle for Luke Bryan. And the format shift occurred so suddenly — with only the above message, perverse-seeming in its simplicity ("WE HAVE DECIDED TO SWITCH OUR FORMAT TO NEW COUNTRY. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING."), as explanation. A Facebook group has already been created so that old fans can vent their outrage. To find out what happened, I called 106.7's owners, Signal Media, and spoke to Mike Kennedy, program director for the new station (and for The Point 94.1). /more/
  • Harrison store Ashley Music to close after 70 years in business

    August 12, 2015
    Ashley Music Store, a longtime institution in Harrison, announced on Facebook yesterday that they'll be closing their doors in September after 70 years in business. Founder Hugh Ashley, a former state representative and mayor of Harrison — as well as a successful songwriter who penned records for Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves and Dinah Shore — passed away in 2008. (For more on Ashley, read our feature obit.) Ashley's daughter Robin explained the store's closing in a Facebook note passed on by a reader: /more/
  • New Song of the Summer from Kari Faux, 'Supplier'

    August 12, 2015
    L.A. (via Little Rock) rapper Kari Faux returns with a new video, "Supplier," a single from her forthcoming EP "Lost En Los Angeles." Aside from being far and away one of the best Arkansas-related songs of the summer, "Supplier" comes with a sultry, atmospheric video that evokes late '70s boogie, complex facial hair and warm VHS nostalgia. "You know I got that futuristic fire," as she puts it. /more/
  • New music from Pepperboy and Main Attrakionz, 'Puttem On'

    August 4, 2015
    Here's something new from Little Rock's Pepperboy featuring Main Attrakionz, his colleagues in the Bay Area rap collective Green Ova. If you didn't spend 2011 listening to "808s & Dark Grapes II," it's never too late. As Pepperboy puts it, "History Has Been Made." /more/
  • New episode of 'My Favorite Guitar' with American Aquarium's BJ Barham

    July 28, 2015
    Here's the new episode of Gerard Matthews' web series "My Favorite Guitar," starring BJ Barham of American Aquarium and filmed at White Water. Also check out the previous clip, which starred John Willis. /more/
  • Smalley pleads guilty to one count, charges related to TC Edwards dropped

    July 27, 2015
    A Pulaski County prosecutor today asked that five counts pending against Andre Demetrius Smalley be dropped, including three counts involving the aggravated robbery of Little Rock musician Terry Charles "TC" Edwards. Smalley plead guilty today to a single count of battery, a class B felony, in the shooting of a Little Rock man last April. Smalley's sentencing on that count has been set for September. /more/
  • More »

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Edward Wooten

  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30

    The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
    • Oct 3, 2012
  • Review: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's 'Ode to Joy'

    Last weekend's Arkansas Symphony concerts, featuring Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony, was extraordinary in that the mandatory "other work" on the program was Schoenberg's "A Survivor from Warsaw," with actor George Takei narrating and the River City Men's Chorus singing the Jewish Shema Israel.
    • Feb 29, 2012
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra: 'Legends'

    The featured work on the Arkansas Symphony's second Masterworks concert last Saturday evening was Brahms First Piano Concerto with Norman Krieger as soloist.
    • Oct 26, 2011
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson's dilemma same as Beebe's and his GOP affiliation doesn't help

    Ernest Dumas writes about the difficulties faced by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in matching the achievements of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, even though he, like the majority of the legislature is a Republican. In short, Hutchinson needs Obamacare money, though his party rests on a foundation that hates Obamacare.
  • Visionary Arkansans 2015

    They make an impact.
  • Brantley: South toward home

    A two-week cruise from Vancouver to Alaska was nicely timed for the August heat wave. It dipped into the 40s during my visit to the Hubbard Glacier, loudly "calving" with mighty booms of cracking ice. Here's a brief politically tinged travelogue.
  • New York Times fails again

    If one were of a low and suspicious nature regarding the New York Times' historically inept Washington Bureau, one might suspect yet another example of the "Clinton Rules" — that is, a shaky allegation unsupported by facts.
  • 'The presence of the past'

    A Q&A with poet Davis McCombs

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation