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John Harbison

Publisher: AMP

Concerto for Cello (1993)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
23 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)

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  • Ensemble
    Albany Symphony Orchestra
    David Finckel (Cello)
    David Alan Miller
  • 26 OCT 2013
    Boston, MA
    New England Philharmonic
    Jan Mueller-Szeraws; Richard Pittman, conductor

John Harbison's bracing yet lyrical CELLO CONCERTO, performed with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist and Barenboim conducting, was the centerpiece of a meaty musical program. One of the concerto's most intriguing elements was the way it played with tonality vs. dissonance. Harbison is not a composer interested in cacophony. Approximately 25 minutes long, written in three connecting movements, the concerto has virtually no moments of gratuitous musical violence. Lurking beneath the surface are straightforward melodies and rock-solid harmonies, the kind of guideposts that lovers of Brahms long for in contemporary music. But they are well-buried. Their echoes are constantly present in Ma's dark meditative solos in the first movements and the last movement's driven, repetitive passages. But the song fragments never wound up where we expected them to go. It was constantly exciting to wonder exactly where they would derail next. Harbison, based in Boston, is a big man in the classical music world whose music has been heard too seldom in Chicago, and it was a pleasure to renew acquaintance with a composer whose music is both accessible and packed with fascinating ideas.
Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times,01/01/0001
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