The Millbrook Independent: TŌN at Bard Sizzles the Program

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“The Orchestra Now under the baton of Leon Botstein delivered a program music on The Romantic Hero last Saturday night at Bard’s Sosnoff Theater. All three works of the evening were introduced by students who had clear diction, knew how to use a microphone, and were adept at giving informal information with witty twist.

Kyle Anderson on cello was magnificent in the opening notes [of Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini] and throughout this symphonic poem. Flutes and strings conjured up heated winds that separated the longing lovers with Otherworldly intensity. The clarinets and bassoon worked overtime. And those delightful horns from hell!

The main course was Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life, 1898), composed immediately after Don Quixote. Strauss’ wife is personified in first violin played by Concertmaster Sophia Bernitz, who gave an adept performance in the nearly six-minute solo that argued in enigmatic bird-like fashion with the orchestra to light comic effect, finally excelling in virtuosity with deep emotional lyricism at the pathos and resignation of the finale.

The blustery blare of the war passage is often condemned by critics as repetitious bombast, yet Botstein excavated a satirically edged twist that reminded me of Shostakovich. The concluding peace was so satisfying that I left with hardly a care in the world—some of the items rattling around in my head were healed and coalesced into solution, which is one of the healing acts of good music well-played. I’ve heard Ein Heldenleben a couple of times before at Sosnoff Theater but this performance by Botstein and TŌN was indelibly more memorable.” —Kevin T. McEneaney

Photo by David DeNee