TON Orchestra at the Rose Theater

JoAnn Falleta Conducts

By: - Oct 19, 2022

TON orchestra arrived at the Rose Theater under the baton of JoAnn Falleta. She is a conductor one wishes would spend more time in New York.  Music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, she conducted  at Tanglewood last summer.  She brings thrilling musicality to her program choices.

Robert Sierra’s Fandangos opened the concert.  He honors his Puerto Rican birth heritage and his training in Europe threading two baroque fandangos through the work which from time to time unleashes Latin phrases. Mystery combines with power and compassion. The harmonic shifts are complex ideas from which melodies arise. Older classical forms and native musical idioms surprise.  Merging ideas and cultures  becomes the theme of the program. 

Ernest Chausson’s Poeme was inspired by a Ivan Turgennev story.  Turgenev was living on the estate of the famous mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot.  Her daughter provided Turgenev's  tabloid fodder, tossed between Gabriel Faure and eventually marrying Alphone Duvernoy.  Although Chausson would quote Robert Schumann’s advice  that all composition should follow form, this work has no formal model. Instead we  have rhapsodic mood-changing.  Chasusson had abandoned the tone poem based on story. He was trying poems based on feeling.  Introspection and sadness were typical moods of the composer.  Violinist Nikki Chooi gave us the gripping battle between Wagner’s lyricism and French perfume.

Ravel’s Tzigane concluded the first part of the program.  Like the czardas dance for courting couples, the work begins with a slow section  followed by an exhilarating fast section. Syncopated rhythms drive the work inward and outward.   

Subtle harmonies and complex counterpoint were brought out in a late composition of Albert Roussel.  The program concluded with Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.  TON violinist Leonardo Vasquez Chacon writes that every instrument of the orchestra is showcased, “almost as if the melodies escape from one jump to the other.”

The orchestra members noted the difficulty of the program Falleta chose, but also remarked on the pleasure of performing it.  

Lydia Tár could have learned about generosity of spirit and musicality from this conductor.