Towson University's Weill Festival shines light on composer's classical side
His rarely encountered Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra from 1924 received a remarkable performance, featuring Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Carney as soloist and a well-matched ensemble led by Concert Artists of Baltimore's artistic director Edward Polochick.
The score bristles with dissonance in that very 1920s way, and, though a glimmer of jazz influence pops up here and there, the overall abstractness seems at times light years away from the more familiar Weill. The concerto is constructed in a clear-cut fashion, and its thematic ideas move in ever-interesting directions, creating a most eventful experience. The central movement, itself divided into three sections with hints of nocturnal imagery, recalls the three inner movements of Mahler's Seventh Symphony (recently played by the BSO).
Tension, drama, elusive resolution -- they're all part of the work's expressive force. And the stark aural contrast of solo violin against a mass of wind instruments, percussion and double bass allows Weill to create a distinctive sound-world.
Carney has done some marvelous work over the years; this
Music for winds written during those same Roaring '20s by other composers filled out the program: Hindemith's Kleine Kammermusik (a work that may have influenced Weill's concerto) and an earthy quintet by Villa-Lobos. The Quintigre Wind Quintet -- Sara Nichols, flute; Fatma Daglar, oboe; Marguerite Levin, clarinet; Gabrielle Finck, horn; Terry Ewell, bassoon -- delivered both works with considerable technical and interpretive flair.
These taut, vivid performances affirmed that the school is fortunate to have these players on the faculty.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WEILL-LENYA RESEARCH CENTER, KURT WEILL FOUNDATION FOR MUSIC, NEW YORK