By Howard Pousner
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s program last Saturday at Carnegie Hall drew a positive review from The New York Times.
Under music director Robert Spano, the ASO program included Esa-Pekka Salonen’s “Nyx” (given its U.S. premiere in Atlanta in late October), Scriabin’s “Poem of Ecstasy” Symphony No. 4 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concert No. 3, featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson.
Times critic Anthony Tommasini noted that, on paper, the program “looked like a curious selection of pieces,” but that Spano “knew what he was doing. The surprising musical resonances among these diverse scores came through vibrantly in three brilliant performances.”
Given its world premiere in February in Paris, “Nyx” was co-commissioned by the ASO, Finnish Radio Symphony, Radio France, Carnegie Hall and London’s Barbican Centre. Finnish-born composer Salonen has acknowledged that he named the composition for the “shadowy” and “nebulous” figure in Greek mythology, but that he wasn’t “trying to describe this mythical goddess in any precise way musically.”
“If I had not known the work’s title, I would still have been swept along,” Tommasini wrote. “‘Nyx’ is especially alluring during its long stretches of delicate, transparent writing. Mr. Spano drew glowing, incisive playing from the orchestra.”
Though he initially thought “Poem of Ecstasy” (completed in 1908) an odd choice to follow “Nyx,” the critic wrote that the two “teeming, modernist works” from different eras were “linked in daring.” He also praised the second-half performance of the Rachmaninoff Third as “uncommonly elegant and lucid.”
“To judge from the large turnout and big ovations,” Tommasini concluded, “[Spano] and the Atlanta players are always welcome at Carnegie Hall.”
Full review: http://nyti.ms/tmmbJX.