Sometimes reinventing the wheel pays off artistically. Last night at the Kennedy Center, where the Aspen Music Festival is in full bloom, the young musicians of the Aspen Chamber Symphony approached the Mozart D Major Violin Concerto, K. 218, and Beethoven's Fourth Symphony with a freshness and an enthusiasm that gave both old saws a spruced-up sound.
Shlomo Mintz was soloist in the Mozart and played with an endearing combination of the heroic and the courtly. This was particularly evident in the Rondo last movement, where Mintz picked a deliciously deliberate tempo out of the air for the recurring theme, and then interspersed broad and vigorous counter-melodies. What gave this performance its particular charm, however, was the sense throughout that the orchestra and soloist were engaged in playing chamber music. Time and time again in the first movement this sense of a collaboration of equals lent a new dimension to the familiar music. Mintz has no trouble dominating when he wants to, but[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] There he wisely chose this other, more powerful means of expression.
The Beethoven, driven by conductor Jorge Mester's insistent urging, was both spritely and controlled. Long ago, this music's suprises ceased to amaze, but the serious involvement of the musicians in this performance renewed the pleasures of hearing it for the first time.
Riegger's "Study in Sonority" for 10 violins proved to be an intense and persistent searching for variety within a strictly controlled set of limits. It gave each member of the violin section a chance to emote, and they turnd out to be as impressive individually as they were collectively.
The concert began with Ravel's "Tombeau de Couperin," which featured some splendid oboe playing.