Young Performers Tackle Stravinsky's Brutal Rhythms

Young Performers Tackle Stravinsky's Brutal Rhythms

The New York Youth Symphony has been training musicians ages 12 to 22 since 1963, and in its annual series at Carnegie Hall, it presents its young charges in daunting programs, usually with admirable results. Since 1984 it has also undertaken a commissioning program that ensures that each of its concerts includes the world premiere of a short symphonic work.

The 52nd of these new works, Emily Lenore Doolittle's ''Dance,'' opened the orchestra's performance on Sunday afternoon. Ms. Doolittle's piece is agreeably simple and direct, and built around a rhythmically vibrant and catchy figure that is repeated and varied. If it posed any challenges for the musicians, they were probably in keeping the gracefully winding theme solid and sharply accented. But in those areas, it was nothing compared with what was to come on the second half of the program, namely, Stravinsky's ''Sacre du Printemps.''

Before the Stravinsky, the players and their music director, Mischa Santora, collaborated with the violinist Elmar Oliveira on a warm-toned and often hefty account of the Brahms Violin Concerto. Mr. Oliveira played the solo line with a fine balance of poetry and muscularity, and the orchestra's strings and winds provided firm, assured support, as well as plenty of energy in the finale.

But the real test was the Stravinsky, with its brutal rhythms and difficult balances. There were moments here (and in the Brahms) when weaknesses in the brass intruded on otherwise unclouded playing. But for the most part, Mr. Santora and his musicians seemed to have little trouble navigating the piece or investing it with the energy and color it demands.

Before the Stravinsky, State Senator Roy M. Goodman presented the orchestra's Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education to Phyllis Barbash, the director of the educational programs at Carnegie Hall from 1994 through last season.        

Publication Information

December 13, 2001
The New York Times
Allan Kozzin

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