Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Viewed while conducting, the man on the podium at Tuesday night's Inter-American Music Festival bore an uncanny resemblance to none other than Mstislay Rostropovich. His hair was slightly whiter, but he was less bald. He wore glasses, and he was broad-shouldered and stocky.
But the conductor, Carlos Chavez, had become the grand old man of Mexican music before Rostropovich reached adolescence. Sources differ, but Chavez is either in his late 70s or his late 80s.
The focal point in Tuesday's program was a new work by the Mexican musician, who is more famed as composer than as conductor. And it was, of all things, a concerto for trombone and orchestra. What? A trombone concerto?
Well, it's been done before. But the experience was new to this listener. And it was most enjoyable. Chavez has created a highly rhapsodic work - which reminded me of Block's cello masterpiece, "Schelomo" - that meshes the solo instrument with the other dark sonorities in the orchestra, rather than trying to set up strong contrasts.
The soloist, Per Brevig, who is the Metropolitan Opera's chief trombone player and also head of the Juilliard chamber music department, did things with the instrument that one didn't know could be done.
That said, one questions putting the work at the end of a program of pieces largely in the same mid-century idiom of slightly acerbic lyricism.
It was good, but it was too much of a good thing.