Harvey Steiman from Aspen IX on Seen and Heard International
Jul 31 2012
Friday evening conductor Ludovic Morlot favored his native French music in the Chamber Symphony concert, which also featured Joyce Yang playing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2. The program opened and closed with Ravel orchestrations of his own piano works from the second decade of the 20th century. The curtain-raiser, Le Tombeau de Couperin, must be the most light-hearted piece evoked by a tomb. Ravel originally wrote the neo-classic work in the style of a Baroque French suite of Couperin’s time but with piquant harmonies and other au-courant flourishes. Morlot led a lovely, idiomatic and utterly charming performance of it, and of the Mother Goose Suite, a colorful series of musical scene-paintings. The Spider’s Feast, written by Ravel’s contemporary Albert Roussel, fit nicely in between, its more jagged style still very much imbued with French elegance.
Yang took a crisp, almost brittle approach to the Beethoven concerto. Morlot went along, favoring quick tempos and an almost Mozartean style while Yang aimed for clarity and brightness, tossing off the fleet passage work easily. The slow movement, perversely, came off best, as Yang eased up on the intensity and created a dreamy atmosphere.