Obscure work delightful concert addition for Toledo Symphony

Alexander Prior
Toledo Blade

The adage that all good things come in packages of three seemed the appropriate subtitle for last evening’s Toledo Symphony Classics Concert. It began with the surprise addition of an obscure work, delightfully delivered, Prelude to Khovanshchina by Modest Mussorgsky.

Guest conductor Alexander Prior was then joined by cellist Julian Schwarz for the world premiere of composer Lowell Liebermann’s Cello Concerto. Prior led the orchestra with a joy that was palpable; ebullience and energy flowed in a seemingly endless stream; his connection to the players obvious on a very primal level.

Schwarz made his cello sing with a palette of instrumental color: deepest pathos to frolicsome merriment and back again to stoic resonance.

Together, these two talents fronting the symphony, brought to stunning life the latest musical vision of one of the most popular American composers working today. The Liebermann work is neoromantic: soaring melodies, blatantly tonal, and quite purposefully allows the audience access to its artistic message and aesthetic. It is (heaven forfend in these days of academic musical martyrdom) simply beautiful. Structurally the work gives a nod to classical concerto form. The orchestrations are richly complex, replete with color, and underlay the solo role of the cello perfectly: balanced, tasteful, and resilient.

The well-crafted work, which will receive several additional outings this concert season, was definitely enjoyed by the audience and artistically holds a measure of aesthetic truth making it worthy of the additional air time it will receive.
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