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Jonathon Heyward returns to the Seattle Symphony to guide spectacular performances of Salonen and Dvořák – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United States Smetana, Salonen, Dvořák: Nicolas Altstaedt (cello), Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Jonathon Heyward (conductor). Benaroya Corridor, Seattle, 1.10.2022. (ZC)

Conductor Jonathon Heyward and cellist Nicolas Altstaedt © Z. Carstensen

SmetanaThe Moldau

Salonen – Cello Concerto

Dvořák – Symphony No.7

The latest Seattle Symphony live performance was as soon as envisioned as a matchmaking session between rising maestro Jonathon Heyward and an orchestra in quest of a brand new chief. In 2019, Heyward had made a formidable debut with the SSO. With youth on his aspect, a resume of lauded concert events and a style for fascinating repertoire, rumors swirled that Heyward might be a very good match. However after his return to Seattle had been deliberate, the Baltimore Symphony introduced that Heyward would succeed Marin Alsop as its music director.

That will have modified the calculation behind Heyward’s return to the rostrum however not its tone or mood. As in his debut program with the Seattle Symphony – which blended Haydn and Holst with a brand new work by Hannah Kendall – Heyward blended the aware of the novel. On this case, the latter took the type of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto, carried out with aplomb by German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt.

‘A bit like a comet’s tail’ is the way in which Salonen describes the opening motion and his enigmatic description of the piece contrasts sharply with experiencing it dwell in live performance, the place vitality radiates off the stage and fills the efficiency corridor. Set in three actions, the construction is acquainted sufficient however belies a particular intricacy that should be heard to be believed. An lively opening motion precedes an introspective center part that’s wealthy with melodic strains for each the solo cello and the flute accompaniment. The fast-paced last motion is extra harking back to most of the requirements within the cello concerto repertoire.

The work oozes with Salonen’s distinctive musical mode of expression, which appears to attract closely from the opulence of the late Romantic custom. And but, the concerto is a contemporary composition with trendy sensibilities. Essentially the most obvious of those thrives is Salonen’s cautious deployment of recorded bits of music through the efficiency. Within the second motion, brief fragments performed by Altstaedt had been recorded forward of time and broadcast on cue by means of audio system on the entrance of the stage. The impact is mesmerizing, creating overlapping waves of sound that give the impression of a number of cellists enjoying directly. These and different dramatic options imbue the work with curiosity and character and, hopefully, be certain that it is going to be no stranger to efficiency halls across the globe.

The bookends of the live performance had been Smetana’s Moldau and Dvořák’s Symphony No.7, and each items had been finely formed with immaculately crafted phrasing. Heyward’s attentive care boosted the orchestra’s internal voices with out sacrificing its heft, coaxing out an interesting, glowing sonority.  Actually, I can’t bear in mind a time when the orchestra has sounded so three-dimensional. In recent times, the Seattle Symphony has vacillated between performances that seethe both with depth or cool, analytical precision. Heyward’s talent on the podium served as a welcome reminder that nuance and vitality are doable with the suitable music director.

If Heyward’s conducting lacked something, it was momentum. Smetana’s work evokes a flowing river, whereas Dvořák’s Seventh – arguably his most ‘Brahmsian’ symphony – propels ahead with Czech vitality. With no rhythmic vitality, Heyward’s imaginative and prescient for these works slowed down in execution. However he’s younger sufficient that his conception of masterpieces will little doubt evolve with time.

The SSO’s season is off to a powerful begin with the assistance of musical companions like Heyward. He’ll quickly be with the Baltimore Symphony the place new adventures await, and audiences there’ll get to understand how his interpretations evolve and develop. Within the meantime, I hope the Seattle Symphony brings him again for future engagements, no matter who completely takes up the publish at Benaroya Corridor.

Zach Carstensen

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