A Panamerican gala
Carlos Chávez: Symphony No. 2, "Sinfonía India"
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major
Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178
Ingrid Fliter (piano)
YOA Orchestra of the Americas, Carlos Miguel Prieto (conductor)
I. Fliter (© Sussie Ahlburg)
The Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) was founded back in 2002 and is finally making its first foray into Canada. Its members (from 25 countries) have spent weeks in the province of New Brunswick preparing the current tour, along with members of L’Orchestre de la Francophonie. This concert by the 80-member ensemble is part of both the Toronto Summer Music Festival and Panamania, the cultural wing of the Pan American Games which are in full swing throughout the Toronto area.
The concert opened with the single movement Symphony No. 2, Sinfonía India, composed 1935-36 by Mexico’s Carlos Chávez. It contains quotes from Aztec music, although the end result sounds now as quite typical of its era, what with, for example, a lyrical section that sounds Coplandesque. The ten-minute work takes us energetically through several contrasting episodes and has an exuberant ending. As one would expect from a youthful ensemble, it was delivered with brio.
Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter was the soloist for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. She won second prize in the 2000 International Chopin Competition, and in 2006 the prestigious Gilbert Artist Award. She is currently one of the nominees for the Gramophone Magazine’s Artist of the Year Award. All this means that she is doing extremely well and her performance here gave ample demonstration as to why, as she clearly sustained the mingled messages in the work - a kind of laconic yearning, luxurious but never swooning. In the third movement the various coloristic wind lines were clearly expressed by the orchestral players, and numerous soloists were given due recognition. The one drawback, which became more pronounced as the evening progressed, was that the large orchestra at full force overwhelmed the acoustics of the hall; big moments tended to have a clattering, crashing quality.
Ms Fliter treated us to an encore, a feather-light performance of Chopin’s Grande valse brillante in E-flat Major.
Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” seems an obvious, almost inevitable, choice for such an occasion, and was given taut but genial guidance by conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, the music director of Mexico’s Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. All-in-all it was a well-formed performance despite the drawback mentioned above. The orchestra would have benefited by being in a larger hall (which raises the problem of enticing a larger audience when the weather outside is so beguiling). The English horn solo in the second movement was wonderfully played by the USA’s Zachary Hammond.
There was a final encore with an uproarious version of the Brazilian popular song Tico Tico, complete with a lot of body movement and flag waving.