The New York Times’ Allan Kozinn, a decent fellow and an excellent critic, gives a lukewarm, I’ve-heard-it-all-before-and-better review of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus’ performance Saturday night at Carnegie Hall. Angel Lam’s “Awakening from a Disappearing Garden,” in its New York premiere with Yo-Yo Ma as cello soloist and the composer as narrator, shared the program with Stravinsky’s opera “The Nightingale.” (Here’s my review of the Atlanta performances.) I’d be curious to hear comparisons from Atlantans who attended, or performed, in the two cities.
The Lam work, Kozinn writes, “is many things roped together.”
“… even the cello line’s most dramatic passages had little real tension within them. Ms. Lam’s first movement seemed bland and distant, with little to grab, let alone challenge, a listener. That changed in the second movement, when Ms. Lam moved closer to her Chinese roots, giving the orchestra fanciful music that drew on lively dance rhythms and couching Mr. Ma’s solo line in microtonally sliding pitches.”
Conductor Robert Spano “and his players functioned in a largely supporting role, but they performed with a solid, generally warm tone. They contributed the same, with an extra dollop of vigor, to the Stravinsky, where the focus was on the superb cast.” (Soprano Celena Shafer as the Nightingale. NYT photo by Hiroyuki Ito.)