The sprawling spectacle of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," a masterpiece of fiery, passionate music based on "One Thousand and One Nights," took up the second half of the program. In the hands of a lesser conductor, and a less capable orchestra, "Scheherazade" could easily sound boorish and gaudy. Spano knows when to emphasize the aggression and enmity in the score, and when to back off, letting the sweetness of a woodwind line rise to the top. Perfectly attuned ensemble playing is the key here, but "Scheherazade" can also fall flat without electrifying soloists. Throughout the work, David Coucheron's violin played the role of the clever, charming Scheherazade. His performance had an edge of mystery, perhaps a bit of cynicism, balanced out with sweetness and charm.
It might seem odd that Fletcher's piano concerto, a gripping new work, should close the first season of the symphony's two-year-long celebration of Bernstein and Beethoven. But the composition was a reminder that Spano's dedication to new music is a fundamental part of his role as music director and has become an enduring part of the ASO.
Inon Barnatan with the ASO
8 p.m. June 7. Additional performance at 8 p.m. June 9. $22-$97. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, atlantasymphony.org.
AJC’s new podcast: accessAtlanta
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In a recent episode, listen to Robert Spano talk about his career with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with AJC features reporter Bo Emerson. It is a revealing interview with the music director, whose career has spanned more than three decades.
>> accessAtlanta PODCAST: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Musical Director, Robert Spano
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People 2 People: May 26,2018