Saturday, September 25, 2010


Best ASO concert I’ve seen in a good while.  The two Gershwin pieces were of course brilliant, Bernstein and Dvorak most enjoyable, Milhaud not so, but the real surprise packet was the Adams piece, The Chairman Dances, which was outstanding.

One question from Rhapsody in Blue – is it possible for a pianist to do too much improv?  Perhaps not with this piece – one of the ways Gershwin was able to complete this piece in just 3 weeks was by not writing any of the piano solo pieces, and just improvising them on opening night (nodding at the conductor when he’d had enough) then writing them down afterwards.  Fair game then, and a terrific job Michael Kieran Harvey did with it.

The pre-match address by one of the flautists (?) added a great deal to the understanding not only of the individual pieces but also the way they went together under the banner of American jazz-influenced classical music, including the Dvorak.

Here’s the complete program:

Master Series 11 - Rhapsody in Blue

Friday 24 September, 8pm

Saturday 25 September, 6:30pm

Adelaide Town Hall

Kristjan Jarvi: Conductor

Michael Kieran Harvey: Piano

Milhaud: The Creation of the World

Adams: The Chairman Dances

Bernstein/Foss: Prelude, Fugue and Riffs

Dvorak: Carnival Overture

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

Gershwin: An American in Paris

No introductory flourish sends a frisson down an audience’s collective spine like the clarinet glissando of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, symbolising the spirit of jazz age America so potently. It’s the musical equivalent of the Empire State Building. With Michael Kieran Harvey at the keyboard, the thrills just keep coming. In a roller coaster ride, the ASO and über cool podium dynamo, Kristjan Järvi, swing through a program symbolising some of the most spectacularly successful fusions of jazz and more ‘traditional’ idioms. With inspiration as diverse as the foxtrot, in John Adams The Chairman Dances, to the Frenchman Darius Milhaud’s sophisticated primitivism in the surrealist ballet The Creation of the World, this concert delivers thrills aplenty.

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