Recent News
01.13.19
James Conlon
Dull Bruch from Zuk, blazing Bartók from Conlon and New World at Arsht
South Florida Classical Review
01.11.19
Sir Andrew Davis
With conductor Andrew Davis, the BSO considers the big picture
The Boston Globe
01.10.19
Louis Lortie
PIANIST LOUIS LORTIE JOINS THE ROSTER
01.10.19
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER CELEBRATES GROUNDBREAKING FOUNDER DURING 60TH ANNIVERSARY NORTH AMERICAN TOUR FEBRUARY 1 – MAY 12, 2019
Ailey PressRoom
01.07.19
Teddy Abrams, Inon Barnatan, The Knights
WQXR Presents “19 for 19”: Artists to Watch in the Upcoming Year
WQXR
01.02.19
Ward Stare
Auld acquaintance is not forgotten at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve concert
KDHX
01.01.19
Marin Alsop, Lawrence Foster, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Mariss Jansons, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, Emmanuel Villaume, Conrad Tao, Andrew von Oeyen, Inon Barnatan, Daniil Trifonov, Blake Pouliot, Isabelle Faust, Edgar Moreau, Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Colin Currie Group , Brooklyn Rider , Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Lisette Oropesa, Michelle DeYoung, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Christian Van Horn, Storm Large
Best of 2018
12.17.18
Richard Kaufman
Cleveland Orchestra, Choruses make it feel like Christmas at Severance Hall
Cleveland Plain Dealer
12.17.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Vienna Boys Choir mix it up with a cosmopolitan “Christmas in Vienna”
New York Classical Review
12.14.18
Storm Large
High-energy holidays with Storm Large at the Sun
KDHX

News archive »

Inserting the Brand-New Alongside the Old Familiar

04.27.12
Cho-Liang Lin
The New York Times

A John Harbison Sonata at Alice Tully Hall

By ALLAN KOZINN

New-music fans who object when musical organizations present contemporary works in special concerts, where they won’t intrude on the classics — the New York Philharmonic’s Contact! series, or the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse concerts, for example — would have approved of the way the society presented John Harbison’s new Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano on Tuesday evening at Alice Tully Hall.

The work, which the society commissioned as part of a consortium, was given its world premiere at the concert by the violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the pianist Jon Kimura Parker, and it was surrounded by two staples of the Romantic canon: Beethoven’s Trio in E flat (Op. 1, No. 1), for which Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker were joined by the cellist Gary Hoffman, and Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor (Op. 60), with the violist Richard O’Neill filling out the ensemble.

Apart from the programmatic vote of confidence that surrounding Mr. Harbison with Beethoven and Brahms represents, having Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker perform in all three works afforded a measure of continuity that the society’s concerts do not always have, and in a way, that was a sign of confidence as well: a way of saying that the ensemble sees Mr. Harbison as part of a historical continuum.

Mr. Harbison’s sonata is substantial, if not especially groundbreaking, and though its language naturally sounds dissonant in this context, it is never much harsher than early Stravinsky. Indeed, Stravinsky appears to have been on Mr. Harbison’s mind: fleeting passages have both the acidity and rhythmic jaggedness of the fiddle writing in “L’Histoire du Soldat.”

But Mr. Harbison also takes a formal approach to structure, pacing and musical development that ties him to Beethoven and Brahms. His piece is in five distinct but connected movements, including a slow, lyrical aria as its heart and a closing rondo, to which Mr. Harbison appends a meditative postscript. And when Stravinsky’s influence is soft-pedaled, others shine through. Some of the piano writing, for instance, is bright, rollicking and jazzy, and both musicians are given opportunities to show off their strengths and flexibility.

Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker made a strong case for the score in an energetic, unified reading. Those qualities also enlivened the Beethoven and Brahms performances, which benefited as well from the supple characterization that familiarity can bring.

In the Beethoven Mr. Parker’s crisply focused pianism captured this early work’s playfulness and sparkle, just as the shifting balance of warmth and brightness in Mr. Lin’s and Mr. Hoffman’s tone caught the young Beethoven’s nods to courtly propriety and bursts of rebellious assertiveness.

In the Brahms the ensemble’s robust interplay countered the work’s gravitas without thoroughly dispelling it. The vigor with which Mr. Parker pounced on themes in the scherzo was especially striking. So was the ensemble’s decision to prize passion over drive in the finale.