Colombian Youth Philharmonic stunning, baffling at Meyerson

Johannes Moser
Dallas Morning News

The Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra was the marquee attraction at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center on Monday night but soloist Johannes Moser gave the evening’s best performances and offered an unfamiliar version of a beloved classic for cello and orchestra. 

Well, I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it: choreographing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring not for dancers, but for the orchestra actually playing the score. 

Comprising musicians from 19 universities, this South American group could challenge the best of Juilliard, Eastman and SMU. In an intensely challenging program, flamboyantly led by Andrés Orozco-Estrada, the new music director of the Houston Symphony, these were crack performances start to finish. The sheer savagery of the Rite was hair-raising, but subtler touches included a gorgeously liquescent bassoon solo at the start and amazingly controlled pianissimos from trumpets and horns. 

A roaring ovation prompted an encore of “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations — with unwelcome choral doublings by members of the orchestra. That’s a lily that needs no gilding.

The superb German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser joined for a white-hot performance of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 — so intense, in fact, that he popped a string in the second movement. With a quick exchange of instruments with the orchestra’s principal cellist, he hardly missed a beat. The piece’s most energetic music needn’t sound quite so desperate, but Moser and the orchestra made a gripping case for the interpretation.

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