In performance: Inscape Chamber Orchestra
Neoclassical music, imaginative but underrehearsed
by Cecelia Porter
Music labeled "neoclassical" covers a lot of territory. Broadly taken, it refers to compositions that convey modern ideas of structure and sound coupled with techniques from a bygone era. Held at Bethesda's Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Sunday's concert by its resident Inscape Chamber Orchestra centered on neoclassical music from the early 20th century to the present -- a long stretch. Harpsichordist Joseph Gascho set the scene with fanciful solo excerpts by the baroque composer François Couperin. Playing expressively, Gascho often lingered freely on outbursts of melodic embellishments -- as if improvising in a Baroque manner.
(read more after the jump)
The orchestra, conducted by Richard Scerbo, had its finest moments with Stravinsky's vigorous Concerto in E-flat, "Dumbarton Oaks," commissioned in 1937 by Washington arts patrons Robert Woods Bliss and his wife, Mildred, who lived on Georgetown's Dumbarton Oaks estate. (The house, with its landscaped gardens, is now a museum belonging to Harvard University.) Stravinsky envisioned his wry piece as a reincarnation of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos: All 15 players are treated as soloists interweaving in elaborate, constantly morphing textures and themes that twist and turn in every direction.
Founded in 2004, this orchestra of young players has developed much individual skill, but not enough yet as a coherent group -- ensemble was often shaky and intonation problematic. Sunday's concert simply demanded more rehearsal time, as evident in Manuel de Falla's Harpsichord Concerto, Stravinsky's Septet, Thomas Adès's reinvention of a Couperin piece, and John K. Leupold II's "An Actuated Agglomerate," an imaginative exploration (a premiere) of instrumental timbres and ranges impelled by repetitive melodic figures.
-- Cecelia Porter
Posted by: Telemann1 | March 11, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse
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