ASO: Robert Spano with Tatiana Monogarova, Morris Robinson, & Simon Trpceski

This evening’s ASO concert was full of beauty and power realized by some great soloists under a well managed baton wielded by Maestro Spano. It began with Shostakovitch’s Symphony no. 14, which is scored for soprano and bass vocalists with a chamber orchestra made up of strings and percussion. The vocal parts are Russian translations of 11 poems by Lorca, Apollinaire, Kuchelbecker, and Rilke, all of which revolve around death through a variety of perspectives. Despite this, the music isn’t all grim and brooding and is actually somewhat lively at times. There was something throughout the piece that came across sometimes as abstract and almost alienating and others as somewhat contemplative, as though the music is thinking about the poems, turning them around in different ways to try to get to the real meaning. The soloists for the piece were soprano Tatiana Monogarova and bass Morris Robinson. The vocalists were both excellent: Robinson’s low notes were clear and strong and Monogarova’s performance was dramatic and moving. The third movement in particular, based on Apollinaire’s ‘Loreley,’ nearly brought me to tears and I found the fourth, based on Apollinaire’s ‘Le Suicide,’ only slightly less moving. The low strings are very prominent in this piece and cellist Daniel Laufer gave a stand-out performance, particularly when giving solo accompaniment to Monogarova.
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