Dec 7, Perelman Theater
Conductor Leon Fleisher is such a warm, authoritative presence on the podium who seems so connected personally to his orchestra. After Fleisher suffered paralysis in his right hand in the middle of his brilliant concert piano career, he shifted his focus as a teacher and conductor. That spirit is gloriously apparent in the camaraderie onstage for Phila. Chamber Music Society’s concert with musicians from The Network for New Music.
The Maestro also knows smart programming that takes a chamber music audience into unheard territory. A rarely performed Igor Stravinsky work ‘In Memoriam Dylan Thomas’ a score to Thomas’ famous poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight’ Stravinsky wanted to compose an opera with the poet, but Thomas died. Fleisher had the poem recited, then the ensemble played the six minute work twice. Dirgy trombone phrases and mournful strings led by the shimmering technique of Hirono Oka, most penetrating sorrow of Thomas Kraines’ cello and sung with lush restraint by tenor David Kirkwood.
Fleischer changes the climate immediately with the carnavale clamor of Hindemith‘s Kammermusik No. 1. By design or musical coincidence the ending fire alarm was an incongruous preview to Ligeti: Aventures / Nouvelles Aventures. Two sopranos and a tenor could be mistaken for the 3 vocal stoogies as they huff, hiss, bark, gurgle and otherwise make a mockery of ‘serious music’ Is this a reconstruction of a prehistoric concert? Or a musical mockery of the Actor‘s Studio.
Tomasz Kowalczyk, the percussionist has the most fun, smashing tins with hammers, slamming a tray of glasses to the floor, ripping and crinkly sounds by tearing apart what looked like The Financial Times. He is only outdone by the orchestra with moment where they sound like they are being shoved down a grand staircase, halted at any time by the elegant hand of Fleisher, who lands them intact.