Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis's new "Concerto in D" for violin is a brainstorm from a genius brain, but it's a storm that may yet need more taming.
The piece was written for Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who performed it with enthusiasm and stunning technique at her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut Thursday night at the Hollywood Bowl, with Cristian Macelaru conducting.
While Marsalis, who is director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, is known primarily as a master of that genre, one could not call this piece a jazz concerto. It's more "American eclectic," or maybe even "world eclectic," with a dense landscape of musical ideas and unique textures for orchestra and violin. In fact, there may be enough ideas for about 10 concertos; and therein lies both its promise and its problem.
The piece appears to still be under revision; while the London premiere in November reportedly lasted 50 minutes, Thursday's performance clocked in at about 38 minutes. Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti played the piece with full commitment and mastery, still reading from the score, which may yet undergo further changes before its next performances, October 27 and 29 at the Kennedy Center, with the National Symphony Orchestra.
The first movement, called "Rhapsody," began with the solo violin, then went in many directions: an episode that sounded like musical pointillism over a jazz beat; then a high dive from the violin and the orchestra bursting into muscular marches. There were octaves, ghostly violin-playing, double stops, a whistle, even a helicopter (admittedly, the helicopter over the Hollywood Bowl was not likely in the score!). In another moment, the music blossomed in the orchestra like sunshine. Every idea was well-executed, but as a listener, it was hard to hold on to any of it. The end was wonderfully unique: a stomping in the orchestra, and high over that, the violin playing something like a Celtic step dance, which all seemed to wander away at the close of the movement. Keep reading...Tweet Comments (1)
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