FOLLOWING ITS OWN LEAD: ORPHEUS
May 24, 2002, p. 22
The great opera director Boris Goldovsky used to tell the singers in his stagings, "You will know everything so perfectly, you don't have to follow any idiot conductor!" For 30 years, the core players (17 strings and 10 winds) of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra have taken that literally, concertizing without a conductor, using collaboration and consensus as their guides. The orchestra, which has played on four continents this year, brings its new program, "Jewish Composers in Hollywood," to the 92nd Street Y.
The performance features Naoko Tanaka as the soloist in Kurt Weill's 1925 Concerto for Violin, Winds, Double Bass and Percussion, the only piece completed in Europe on a program of music by five Jewish European exiles who settled, with varying degrees of permanence, in California during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Weill concerto replaces the previously announced Symphonic Elegie for Strings by Ernst Krenek and Hollywood songs by Hanns Eisler.
The concert will feature several Orpheus worldwide premieres, including the orchestral "Divertimento" by the Polish-French Alexandre Tansman (1897-1986); a movement from the Symphonic Serenade (1947) by the Viennese opera composer prodigy turned film-scorer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), and "The Charm Bracelet," an orchestration of a five-movement suite for young pianists by the prolific German-born film composer Franz Waxman (1906-1967). All were completed in California, as was the concert's finale, Arnold Schönberg's Chamber Symphony No. 2, an Orpheus "signature piece."
One hopes that Orpheus will return to the stage soon with a performance of the Krenek and Eisler.
- LEONARD LEHRMAN
The 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave.; June 1, 8 p.m.; $40, reservations suggested. (212-415-5500 or www.92sty.org)
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