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In a week of concerts in South Florida that featured superb music making by Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony and an outstanding program by the Israel Philharmonic under the remarkable Yoel Levi, the New World Symphony was not to be outdone. Under Macal's inspired direction, the musicians did full justice to Suk's wonderful score. The lush string sound was a real boon to this ultra Romantic work. Nelly Kim's gleaming violin solos made the music soar. The colorful wind playing (in the Scherzo) and the sonorous brass (in the finale) gave the music a wonderful autumnal glow. Conducting without a score, Macal was the absolute master of Suk's rhapsodic work. His perfect sense of balance and tone was awesome. Macal made the score flow ever forward with a sense of musical inevitability. A thrilling performance! Suk's major orchestral works deserve more frequent performance. In future seasons, perhaps Macal can lead the colorful A Winter's Tale or Suk's visionary late masterwork the Asrael Symphony.

Dvorák's Symphony No 9 in E minor Op 95 ('From the New World') is thrice familiar fare but achieved freshly minted beauty in Macal's idiomatic performance. The hushed surprise of the adagio introduction gave way to the driving rhythmic thrust of the Allegro molto. The warm, glowing tone of Kazem Abdullah's clarinet solo embraced the second theme. Macal's wonderfully slow, flexible manner with the third subject recalled the classic recorded accounts by Bernstein and Tallich. In the famous Largo, Macal drew sentiment without sentimentality. The blend of string instruments had the beautiful intimacy of chamber music. Macal brought gusto and real Czech spirit to the Allegro molto. The rich string rubato (in the movement's second theme) sounded wonderful. The light, warm sound of the winds really glowed. For once the Allegro con fuoco finale did not sound like an anti-climax. Under Macal's masterful baton, the movement became a true apotheosis of Dvorák's American odyssey. A masterwork revitalized!

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Copyright © 27 April 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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