Highly effective Rachmaninoff concerto follows trendy music | Live performance opinions



St. Louis Symphony Orchestra music director Stéphane Denève


This weekend’s concert events by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra options two themes that recur on this season’s repertoire — trendy music and Russian music. Trendy music is represented by three American composers — Caroline Shaw, Charles Ives and Christopher Rouse. Russian music is represented by Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with soloist Yefim Bronfman.

In an attention-grabbing flip of presentation Friday morning, music director Stéphane Denève had Shaw’s 2014 “Entr’acte,” a transcription for strings of a chunk initially for string quartet, adopted instantly by Ives’ “The Unanswered Query” from 1906, and that adopted instantly by Rouse’s “Rapture” from 2000. No time was allowed for applause till after “Rapture,” and for “Entr’acte” solely the stand lights of the strings had been lit. For “The Unanswered Query,” the woodwinds gained their lights, and it wasn’t till “Rapture” was effectively underway that the complete orchestra ultimately gained its lights.

Shaw is among the many busiest and most profitable American composers working at this time. At age 30, she turned the youngest individual to obtain a Pulitzer Prize for music for her “Partita for 8 Voices,” written for the a cappella group Roomful of Enamel, during which she sings. A busy collaborator in avant-garde music in New York, she performs the solo half in her personal violin concerto and can be energetic as a producer.

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