A final-minute cancellation from a big-name soloist is never welcome information, although the depth of an viewers’s disappointment will depend upon how properly musicians and organizers are capable of adapt. Whereas one was keen to listen to Midori carry out Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra beneath Marin Alsop at Ravinia on Friday night time, the headliner needed to withdraw on the final second citing sickness. Fortunately, violin star Rachel Barton Pine calls Chicago house, and was capable of stand in for Midori on brief discover.
Pine didn’t disappoint. She was a more-than-worthy substitute, and had not too long ago labored on Prokofiev’s rating as a part of a private “24 Concertos in 24 Weeks” pandemic mission, a serendipitous coincidence that left the scheduled program intact.
She spun the seemingly infinite opening melody of the Andantino in an elevated narrative vogue, and was commanding because the solo writing grew knottier and extra technical all through the motion. The Andantino’s shut discovered Pine floating in her highest register with the CSO flutes supporting, making a genuinely celestial impact Friday night time.
The Scherzo was extra touch-and-go. Pine jumped the gun on her first entrance, and whereas she recovered properly, the entire madcap episode felt too tentative to create the unhinged impact of extra tautly ready performances. All of this, nevertheless, was completely comprehensible in gentle of the circumstances, and Pine stored her cool when issues started to really feel precarious. The closing Moderato was emotionally wealthy with the ardent opening melody and ensuing moments of contained rage compellingly conveyed by Pine and colleagues, earlier than the otherworldly, whisper-soft ending. Alsop was a peaceful and authoritative chief all through, simply because the state of affairs known as for.
As an encore, Pine provided Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s Louisiana Blues Strut, an extroverted solo miniature. Pine was a high-quality advocate for the brief work, leaning eagerly into its slides and crunchy blues harmonies, even when the piece felt jarringly misplaced after the ethereal ending of the Prokofiev.
The night opened with Banner for String Quartet and Chamber Orchestra, a 2014 rating from new CSO Mead composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery. The work is one thing of a fantasia on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with the solo quartet representing the “particular person” working each with and towards the bigger orchestra/social forces.
The work begins in an angular vein, with intervals and harmonies that do evoke the Nationwide Anthem, albeit in an summary, dissonant method, earlier than segueing right into a pressure extra harking back to a Latin dance. A extra static, pointillist part ensues, that includes a distinguished double bass solo, convincingly rendered by principal Alexander Hanna on Friday. The orchestra musicians all stomp to usher in an episode the place the low strings deal with their devices like literal beat packing containers, tapping on them percussively, earlier than fragments of the Anthem emerge once more in a punctuating closing part.
Violinist Stephanie Jeong was first amongst equals within the very good solo quartet (with violinist Baird Dodge, violist Weijing Wang and cellist John Sharp) and Alsop proved a deft navigator of Montgomery’s rating. It was exhausting to not hear the sturdy affect of Charles Ives on this raucously retooled American music, although Montgomery’s aesthetic is clearly of this century and really a lot her personal. Audiences can stay up for extra publicity to her participating music within the coming CSO seasons.
The night closed with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Main, “Italian.” The opening Allegro vivace had ample esprit, elegantly adorned with contributions from the CSO woodwind principals, all of whom have been on responsibility for the efficiency. A becoming air of tense restraint ran via Alsop’s remedy of the Andante con moto, its pizzicato ending sounding impossibly gentle even within the outside Ravinia surroundings. The Con moto moderato was gracious and flowing, with bucolic horns within the trio, and the ultimate Saltarello went with swirling abandon, once more highlighted with pristine contributions of the wind part, who obtained a well-deserved collective solo bow after the double-bar.
Marin Alsop leads the CSO Saturday at Ravinia in a program that features Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, Ginastera’s Variaciones concertantes, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 with pianist Lukáš Vondráček. ravinia.org
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