“The audience at Saturday’s concert of the Spokane Symphony was treated to an exceptionally rich program, offering six works by six unique composers of the 20th century, five of whom were born in the United States,” writes Larry Lapidus in Sunday’s (1/22) Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). “Two of the composers on the program were African-American: Scott Joplin (1868-1917), whose father was a slave, and Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington (1899-1974)…. In the vigorous and pointed rendition by the Spokane Symphony, [Joplin’s overture to the opera Treemonisha] transported the listener back to a world capable of enjoying innocent melodrama and Sunday band concerts in the park. [With] Ellington’s ‘Harlem’ … an ambitious tone-poem written in the idiom of big band jazz … the orchestra morphed from a cheerful parlor ensemble playing Joplin’s cakewalks into a powerful dance band that really swung…. Rick Westrick’s work at the drum set … was greeted by shouts of excitement from the audience.” Also on the program were Barber’s School for Scandal Overture, John Adams’s “The Chairman Dances” from Nixon in China, and Gershwin’s An American in Paris. In Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, concertmaster Mateusz Wolski performed “with a combination of instrumental perfection and emotional intensity.”

Posted January 24, 2017