Sunday, December 4, 2011

Detroit Free Press: 'DSO performance under Wilkins makes you want to dance'

[Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and Guest Conductor Thomas Wilkins]

Mark Stryker
Classical Music Critic
“At first glance, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's program of music by Bela Bartok, Alexander Glazunov, Erwin Schulhoff and Beethoven doesn't appear to promote any particular theme.

“But the cumulative effect of Friday morning's concert, led by the DSO's beloved former resident conductor Thomas Wilkins, was to make a case for the deep connections between classical music and vernacular dance music -- its rhythms, forms and momentum. There was another subtext too: The distance between so-called high culture and populist art shrinks quickly when you begin to examine fundamentals.”

“Wilkins led a dynamic performance, judiciously brisk but never out of control. Balances were expertly judged, and the ensemble was in top form, richly colored and unified by common purpose. Wilkins -- who is thriving as music director of the Omaha Symphony, principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl and family concert conductor for the Boston Symphony -- has continued to deepen as a musician. It's always a pleasure to welcome him back.

“Saxophonist Branford Marsalis joined Wilkins and the DSO for Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto (1934) and Schulhoff's "Hot-Sonate" (1930). Employing a vibrant, bell-like tone on alto, brighter and with a more expressively varied vibrato than you hear from many classical saxophonists, Marsalis found the yearning nostalgia at the core of the Glazunov concerto.”

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