“What is specifically American about American classical music?” writes Terry Blain in Monday’s (11/27) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “In the search for answers, William Bolcom’s ‘Commedia, for (almost) 18th-Century Orchestra’ is as good a place to start looking as any. ‘Commedia’ opened Saturday evening’s … concert at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra…. Take a liberal dose of Ives, add a splash of Berlioz, stir it up with Bolcom’s own gleeful sense of mischief, and you get the picture … a happy, mashed-up metaphor for America itself…. Retrospection loomed even larger in John Corigliano’s ‘Snapshot: Circa 1909.’ … The tone was sepia-tinted, the detail etched by two outstanding sensitive soloists on violin—the sweetly nostalgic Kyu-Young Kim, and Ruggero Allifranchini, spinning a stratospherically aspiring line.… The house and stage lights dimmed to virtual darkness … for a movement from Kevin Puts’ ‘Arches’ [for] five soloists, stationed on stage and around the balcony…. The effect was haunted-house eerie, the sinuous, gradually accelerating strands of music unraveling as if from different strata of the memory. Aaron Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ followed without a pause, its clean lines dispelling the shadowy, subconscious murk.…The effect was cleansing and therapeutic.”

Posted November 29, 2017