Soloists James Garth ’13, bassoonist, and Lauren Kim ’13, pianist, were the highlights of Friday evening as they performed the music of John Williams, Dmitri Shostakovich and other well-known composers with the accompaniment of the Academy Orchestras.
The Academy Chamber Orchestra players accompanied Garth in his breathtaking performance of “The Five Sacred Trees,” a John Williams concerto that features highly advanced technical skills and meter changes, all of which Garth performed effortlessly. The piece had never been published, said James Orent, Director of the Academy Chamber Orchestra, and was on loan from Williams’s personal library.
Opening the first movement, the sound and dynamics built up of the different sections of the orchestra repeated the main melodies of the piece. As the piece moved on to the second movement, it was marked by much swifter and sharper tunes.
The complementing harmony between Garth and Miki Nagahara ’13 during her violin solo in “The Five Sacred Trees” stood out to audience members.
“This concerto is by far my favorite bassoon concerto, particularly because it does an amazing job of showcasing how versatile an instrument the bassoon is. According to John Williams, the first movement was inspired by Celtic bagpipes, and all of the embellishments and grace notes he added certainly gave that feel,” said Garth.
“Although I love both of the pieces we played tonight, I would have to say that I was particularly struck by the Williams bassoon concerto,” said Maita Eyzaguirre ’14, a violist in the Corelli Ensemble. “Not only was this piece unique because of the instruments it featured, but it also succeeded in incorporating an exquisite balance of traditional and contemporary music. Also, the fact that this piece was never published made it all the more exhilarating to listen to.”
The Chamber Orchestra also performed Josef Suk’s “Meditation on an Old Bohemian Chorale (St. Wenceslas) for String Orchestra, Op. 35” immediately preceding Garth’s performance.
After a brief intermission, the Academy Symphony Orchestra resumed the concert with a rendition of Johannes Brahms’s “Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56,” followed immediately by Kim’s solo piece—“Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102” by Dmitri Shostakovich.
Kim, the second Senior soloist of the night, played “Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102.” March-like rhythms travelled through the piece’s sections of crescendos and diminuendos.
“It felt invigorating to play this piece. It has a happy character that could be at times pompous or even sarcastic with it’s straight, clear, succinct melodies, especially in the cadenza of the piece,” said Kim.
Kim’s interpretation of Shostakovich’s piano concerto was rich with oscillating melodies contrasted with the straightforward tempo. The piece concluded with a dizzying climax that received a positive response from the audience.
Prior to the performances by Garth and Kim, the audience was immersed in the Corelli Ensemble’s rendition of “Iditarod” by Soon Hee Newbold, a slow piece with a melancholy undertone.
Amadeus Ensemble took the stage after Corelli’s rendition of “Tudo Bem” by Bob Lipton, with a performance of “Serenade for String. Op. 48” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, complete with dramatic crescendos and a flowing melody. Despite the absence of some players, the ensemble performed smoothly, combining the sounds of many instruments to bring the energetic rhythms that make up the piece.
“Although the first movement we played was an elegy, aside from all the grief, I think the composer also wanted to capture all the treasures and joy of the person’s life,” said Tony Choi ’15, the Co-Concertmaster of Amadeus Ensemble.