NEW YORK YOUTH SYMPHONY
For the talented young members of the New York Youth Symphony, Sunday’s Carnegie Hall concert under the baton of Joshua Gersen was a test of concentration. The first source of distraction was the capacity audience filled with cellphone-toting relatives. The musicians kept their composure even when two dozen latecomers crept in during the opening bars of the lyrical Larghetto of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with one wave of audience members tut-tutting and a second shushing the tut-tutters.
Another distraction was the furor over the last-minute decision to cut a contemporary piece by the composer Jonas Tarm from its program because, according to the orchestra’s management, he did not give a satisfactory explanation for his work’s citation of the “Horst Wessel” song, a Nazi anthem.
The remaining program, which featured Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” as well as the Beethoven, offered plenty of evidence of the youth symphony’s rich sound and melodic astuteness. But it was a shame that the players were not given the chance to show off their chops in contemporary fare.
The Beethoven was not without imperfections, but Mr. Gersen drew vivid dynamic contrasts from the orchestra. The soloist, Elena Urioste, played with an enchanting, sweet tone and shapely phrasing. There was an unaffected purity and naturalness to the trills that are sprinkled all over the solo part. In “Scheherazade,” the quality of individual orchestra members stood out: the gorgeous tone of the concertmaster Joseph Morag; the warmth of the principal bassoon, played by Harrison Miller; the limpid clarity of Olivia Staton’s flute. The face-off between trombone (Zach Crowley) and muted trumpet (Anthony Limoncelli) in the second movement was vivid and exciting, part of a performance that was taut with dramatic tension. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
photo credit: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times