The New York String Orchestra, which under Alexander Schneider's direction has become an annual holiday visitor to the Kennedy Center, played there again last night. The idea behind the orchestra is excellent: Over the holidays, between 60 and 70 highly talented young players meet, rehearse and give a concert in New York City, then repeat it here.
Their tutors are among the world's top musicians, their experiences potentially invaluable. The results, in purely technical terms, are often remarkable. In last night's music by Bach and Wagner, there was often a tone of lambent beauty in phrasing and playing, both solo and ensemble, that was highly professional.
The Wagner was the Siegfried Idyl. Its performance deeply felt, sensitively conducted by Schneider, and wholly impressive.
These young musicians also often spend vast amounts of time playing Bach - and last hight there were Brandenburg Concertos 3 and 2, and the third orchestral suite. It is absurd these days for 50 strings to play Bach as these young people do, blurring lines, drowning out winds that should have parity with the strings, and parading a hopelessly inaudible harpsichord. Let's keep the New York Orchestra, give it a proper name - there are 15 non-string players in it-and hear them in the vast repertoire for which they are beautifully suited.
The free concert was enthusiastically received by a large audience.