Programs were available in Spanish as well as English for the National Symphony Orchestra's program Friday night in the Carter Barron Amphitheatre--or perhaps we should say (as the program did) the Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional in the Anfiteatro Carter Barron. The evening's music also had a distinctly Latin flavor, and conductor Anthony Aibel (the orchestra's assistant conductor-in-residence) showed impressive fluency in this style.
The program, part of the "NSO in Your Neighborhood" series, was designed to reach out to new audiences, and in fact the assembled listeners were visibly quite different from the audiences usually seen at the Kennedy Center--less formal, more relaxed, ethnically more diverse and, on average, strikingly younger, including some toddlers who danced in the aisles.
The program featured works by composers from three continents, including two North Americans (Gershwin's "Cuban Overture" and part of Gottschalk's "La Nuit des Tropiques"), a Brazilian (Guarnieri's "Dansa Brasileira") and even a Russian, Rimsky-Korsakov, whose "Capriccio Espagnol" was as intensely Spanish as anything on the program. The properly so-called Spanish music included Falla's haunting Interlude and Dance from "La Vida Breve" and Turina's cinematically evocative "Danzas Fantasticas," which the orchestra played for the first time and performed beautifully.
The NSO's assistant concertmaster, Ricardo Cyncynates, soloed in two Spanish-flavored works of French origin, the "Havanaise" of Saint-Saens and the "Carmen Fantasy" of Sarasate--a brilliant Spanish violinist-composer's elaboration of Bizet's fiery excursion into Spanish styles.
The whole program was rich in dance rhythms (the kids who took to the aisles knew exactly what the music was about), but Sarasate used those rhythms and Bizet's melodic invention to test every aspect of violin technique. Cyncynates passed all of the composer's tests in brilliant style.