“The phrase ‘song of the earth’ provides fertile ground for a fascinating and diverse array of sounds—just ask the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,” writes Ronni Reich in Tuesday’s (1/21) Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey). “At the opening weekend of the ensemble’s Winter Festival … an earth-themed program cannily paired the U.S. premiere of Tan Dun’s ‘Earth Concerto’ with Gustav Mahler’s ‘Das Lied von der Erde.’ … Writing in 1907 and 1908, Mahler drew inspiration from ancient Chinese poetry. Tan Dun’s 2009 work is an explicit response to the Mahler, complete with musical quotations. It also incorporates music of his native China, as well as unconventional instrumentation, including flowerpots and Chinese wind instruments…. Percussionists David Cossin, James Neglia and James Musto gave virtuoso turns on flowerpots, udu drums and more…. Throughout the work, short blips, chirps and splatters of orchestral color … grew into a complex and intricate sound world…. [Music Director Jacques] Lacombe exactingly commanded the uncommon forces at hand, with an interpretation that was full of life and color. The orchestra was in top form. Seemingly in contrast to the Tan Dun, the Mahler examined modern man’s experience on the earth. It chronicled wonder at nature as well as love, sorrow, friendship and drunken oblivion.”

Posted January 23, 2014