Each American Youth Symphony concert generally features a well-known soloist, then gives the students who make up the ensemble an opportunity to shine--usually in a major work. The AYS program Sunday evening thus proved somewhat of an exception, since the agenda included only one short, purely orchestral work--and two soloists.
The first was pianist Norman Krieger, who brought style and integrity to his performance of Beethoven's Third Concerto. Krieger delivered fortes strongly, rendered legato lines fluidly and delineated melodies with clarity. He exploited the gamut of the instrument's dynamic spectrum, invariably with faultless control. Under Mehli Mehta's leadership, the orchestra provided expressive and rhythmically secure support.
Two contemporary works served as vehicles for the other soloist, trombonist Eitan Bezalel. Lazlo Rooth's anachronistically tonal "Impressions" could have been titled "Richard Strauss meets Arthur Pryor," but was certainly scored with skill.
Barry Brisk's "Little Concerto," Hindemithian in language and style, employs skillfully wrought counterpoint but emerges rather pedantic. The Israeli-born trombonist rendered both of the works with warmth, sensitivity and command. Brisk conducted his own work with authority and precision, and the musicians responded accordingly.
Leon Levitch's easily digestible Symphony No. 2, the only purely orchestral installment, might make an effective accompaniment to some panoramic movie scenes, but has little depth for a symphony. But under Mehta's baton, the young musicians gave this an enthusiastic and highly poetic performance.