ASO: Robert Spano with Benjamin Beilman

The orchestra wasn’t in its best form this evening. There was a lot of muddiness all around, but particularly from the brass and the 2nd violins. That said, the music itself did make it through the mud well enough for me to appreciate the scores that they were playing.

The program began with Christopher Theofanidis’ newish work “Dreamtime Ancestors.” The inspiration for the piece came from Australian aboriginal creation tales that Theofanidis learned about while researching “Creation/Creator.” The work sounded a bit to me like a blending of what could be overtures to two or three Spielberg movies. I liked it better than “Creation/Creator,” but that’s not saying terribly much. It left me thinking that he could probably do some good work as a composer of incidental music, though.

Next was Sibelius’ violin concerto performed with soloist Benjamin Beilman. Beilman was excellent. He played with a good deal of sensitivity and seemed to be pushing the music out of the violin, as though he were giving birth to the sound. I was particularly impressed with his handling of the first-movement cadenza: he met the technical challenges exceedingly well without sacrificing any of the lyricism that Sibelius wrote into it. I was less impressed with his encore, which had a few squeaks in it. It wasn’t a piece that I recognized or particularly enjoyed; I had to ask the person sitting next to me and she said that it was Mozart. I have to admit that I just don’t get that excited for that particular master’s music.

The evening ended with John Adams’ “Harmonielehre.” This is a piece that I really like and, although the performance wasn’t particularly good, it was good enough for the quality of the score to come through. At times tense or intense, it always has a dreamy quality to it that Spano managed to keep to the forefront even during the fast or hard-driving bits.

It’s worth noting that this weekend’s concerts were proceeded by a subscriber appreciation event. There were free drinks and hors d’oeuvres. I enjoyed a glass of wine, though none of the food was Robbie friendly. Once again they played jazz, as though everyone wasn’t there to hear classical music and the ASO didn’t have its own recording label. Maybe one day the staff will appreciate the genre at least enough to respect the audience members’ love of it, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Don’t forget to check out the Atlanta Classical Music Calendar!

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