Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 14
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast


New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Electrifies Princeton With New Concert

Nancy Plum

The Trenton War Memorial has been renovated significantly in recent years, to the point that the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra now considers the hall one of its usual stops throughout the state during the course of the year. The hall is somewhat cavernous compared to the ensemble’s other performing homes, but Friday night’s concert by the orchestra indicated that the players are versatile enough to play to their hall, adjusting to maintain clarity and a clean sound.

Although the program was entitled “Järvi Conducts Brahms,” the featured composer’s music was not heard until the second half of the concert, and the key piece of the evening seemed to be the world premiere of Darryl Kubian’s 3-2-1 for Electric and Acoustic Violin and Orchestra, conducted by Orchestra Music Director Neeme Järvi. This three-movement concerto, composed by a member of the orchestra’s violin section, showcased concertmaster Eric Wyrick as soloist playing on both acoustic and electric instruments. The electric violin can produce a similar sound to its acoustic sibling, but with the addition of electronics activated by a pedal board, the instrument produces a wide variety of musical sounds ranging from organ-like tones to those of an electric guitar with echo.

Mr. Wyrick moved easily between acoustic and electric instruments throughout the work, playing on his regular 1737 Guarneri acoustic violin and an electric instrument resembling a violin without the sound chamber. Mr. Kubian conceived this piece from an article in Scientific American, and seems to have been inspired by both music from film and the great electric guitarists of the rock world. The number “3” was critical throughout the concerto, with themes comprised of three motives, and motives comprised of three notes. The contrast between acoustic and electric violins was clearly a musical goal of the work.

Both acoustic and electric violin blended in with the orchestra, and Mr. Kubian achieved some interesting instrumental effects by pairing the electric violin (played with double-stops and parallel tones) with the harp, played by Lise Nadeau Harman. Flutist Bart Feller and cellist Stephan Fang joined soloist Wyrick on the acoustic violin in the second movement, “Zeno’s Paradox,” and a very mellow musical atmosphere resulted from the addition of the viola section to this trio of instruments. A combination of harp and piccolo against the strings created another intriguing musical palette, and the ability to hear the pizzicato celli from the back of the balcony also served as a credit to the War Memorial itself.

The concert lived up to its title name in the second half as Maestro Järvi led the orchestra in Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 3. The orchestral sound was clean in this symphony, with especially crisp winds. The first movement rolled along through the dramatic and familiar opening, and after the intense contemporary violin concerto, the audience could relax through this more traditional work. Solo flute, clarinet, and bassoon cleanly opened the second movement andante, and Maestro Järvi made a particular effort to bring the sound way down, enabling the solos to be heard. A rich cello theme and effective horn solo (played by Lucinda Lewis) marked the third movement poco allegretto, and the Brahms continued through the encore of one of the composer’s Hungarian Dances.

The audience reaction to the Kubian piece was significantly more enthusiastic than to that of the Brahms, indicating not that there was something wrong with the Brahms, but that Princeton audiences are open to new musical experiences and expect nothing less from the orchestra than clean playing on the standard repertoire. Coming on the heels of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3, another avant-garde concerto involving violin, it seems that Mr. Kubian’s piece is part of an interesting trend. The key will be whether it will have a life past its composer’s resident orchestra.

Return to Top | Go to All in a Day’s Work

Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton — McCaffrey’s, Cox’s, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszer’s (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell — Village Express; Rocky Hill — Wawa (Route 518); Pennington — Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.