In the News

CADENZA: TŌN and The Met Revisit 1930s Art Relevant to Today

“The Metropolitan Museum Art’s Sight and Sound series, featuring Leon Botstein and The Orchestra Now, delivered an insightful lesson in art appreciation, placing the music of Aaron Copland within the context of 1930s America in a program called Copland, Culture, and Politics in the 1930s. This delightful series is the sort of thing we rarely see anymore — quality entertainment that educates.

Like artwork advertising the National Park Service, Copland drew upon the vast American landscape for inspiration. His 1938 ballet Billy the Kid represents a kind of musical nationalism, too, incorporating cowboy tunes and folk melodies. Botstein led a surefooted reading of the score, and TŌN — currently featured on the big screen in the film Maestro — sounds terrific.

Tomorrow’s Philharmonic musicians in training, the orchestra is anchored by polished, gently gleaming strings, the brass section boasts warmth and heft, and the woodwind section is a source of promising soloists in Copland’s lean, exposed textures.

‘The Open Prairie’ had a spacious, unaffected quality, enhanced by impressively melancholy high clarinet tones. Woodwind solos jostle in the ‘Street in a Frontier Town’ with enviable energy. The secure, expressive trumpet solo in ‘Card Game at Night’ belied the soloist’s years. The ensuing ‘Gun Battle’ proved the mettle of TŌN’s percussion section, with sharply menacing timpani and drum interjections.” – Brian Taylor

Photo by Patrick Arias