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Previn Premiere a Winner

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Nov 22, 2014 - 11:47:56 AM in reviews_2014

Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson performing Andre Previn's Double Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by Louis Langree
André Previn was in good company Friday night at Music Hall.

Mozart to be exact, whose Symphonies No. 34 and 41 (“Jupiter”), both in C Major, framed his Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, performed by violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by music director Louis Langrée.

It was the world premiere of the Concerto, which was commissioned for Laredo and Robinson by the CSO, Cincinnati’s Linton Music and seven other orchestras, with lead funding for the CSO premiere by local philanthropists Ann and Harry Santen.

It was a special occasion by all measures, with Previn participating in the Classical Conversation preceding the concert (and a question-and-answer session at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in the afternoon before Saturday’s repeat).

Scored for full orchestra and clocking in at ca. 20 minutes, the three-movement work ignited a real spark in its participants, who gave it a wholly sunny and engaging performance. Langrée, in fact, when presented with a bouquet at the end, immediately leaped down from the stage to present it to Previn, who was seated in a box to the left. It was a feeling shared by the entire audience.

The Concerto is a sunny work, completely tonal, with much use of C major, virtuosic writing for the soloists, colorful orchestration and a theatrical feel. This was evident from the Allegretto exposition following an introductory “quasi cadenza” for the two instruments. The movement was a real toe-tapper, completely outgoing to its sassy conclusion.

The second movement, denoted “Slow,” was wonderfully melodic -- heart-melting in effect -- with lush textures, including harp. It began in a contemplative mood, with solo violin and cello unfolding over muted strings.

The Presto finale was cheerful and cheeky, with constant changes of meter, a delightfully jazzy feel and constant activity by the orchestra. It came to an end on a big fortissimo chord, sounded pizzicato by the soloists, with pizzicato strings, again in C Major.

Langrée -- whose middle name must surely be Mozart -- led precise, transparent and wonderfully evocative performances of the Mozart symphonies.  No. 34 was performed with its unfinished Minuet movement – a mere 14 measures – for added interest and effect,  eliciting enthusiastic approval from the crowd. The opening Allegro vivace was filled with joy, the Andante slow movement with charm, while the Allegro vivace finale scurried brightly along.

Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony (the last one he completed) is one of the greatest of all symphonies and it received an Olympian performance by Langrée and the CSO. Conducting from memory, he drew a full, rich sound from the orchestra, with lots of shading throughout. The intensity of the Andante was beautifully captured and communicated, while the Menuetto was thoroughly beguiling. The Allegro molto unfolded in all its polyphonic glory, very ringing and precise and again, overflowing with joy to its stirring conclusion.

The concert repeated at 8 p.m. tonight at Music Hall. Tickets begin at $12. Call (513) 381-3300, or order online at www.cincinnatisymphony.org