MUSIC | MUSIC REVIEW - Nov. 2, 2014
An eclectic Evening to start a Season
Riverside Symphony Opens Season at Alice Tully Hall
By David Allen
The pianist Hélène Tysman with the Riverside Symphony,
conducted by George Rothman, at Alice Tully Hall on
Credit Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times
In the musical world, we still have work to do to broaden and update our canon, perhaps to go beyond the very idea of a canon at all. But even beyond the major orchestras and star soloists, plenty of performers have been engaged in such an effort for years. Take the Riverside Symphony and its earnest conductor, George Rothman, who enthusiastically opened its new season with an enjoyable concert at Alice Tully Hall on Saturday night. In the last couple of years, its programs have had eye- opening musical breadth, if not human diversity. One program combined Ravel, Schulhoff, Maxwell Davies and Ginastera, another Takemitsu, Honegger, Bach and Avison, and still another Constant, Nielsen, Prokofiev and Bizet.
Of course, it’s in the nature of experimentation that not everything will come off, the nagging question being whether older works, especially, are worth the excavation. Lacking a coherent theme (“Romance in the Air” provided no guidance), this one felt a little too eclectic, even though it quirkily adhered to the usual overture-concerto-symphony structure.
Not that there was anything particularly amiss in the pianist Hélène Tysman’s contribution to Faure's Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (Op. 111, 1919). Playing with a warm touch and a dreamy sensibility that never turned too introspective or indulgent, Ms. Tysman made a good case for this amiable work. With firmer direction from Mr. Rothman, and a wider orchestral palette, it might have felt a touch less aimless and convinced a little more.
There was nothing more that could have been done for Chopin’s “Grande Polonaise Brillante”(Op. 22, 1831). With its preface, an “Andante spianato” composed after the Polonaise, this piece is usually heard in its solo form. But the Polonaise — not the Andante, also performed here — has an orchestral part, too, albeit an uninventive one. Again, Ms. Tysman’s playing was polished and attractive, the right-hand melody spun out delicately without becoming precious.