A Singer's Notes by Keith Kibler

A Singer’s Notes 107: Louis Lohraseb Conducts the Amadeus Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, with Cicely Parnas, Cello; Gerard Schwarz and the Mozart Orchestra of New York

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Louis Lohraseb, Conductor
Louis Lohraseb, Conductor

The first, the Amadeus Orchestra, conducted by the twenty-something Louis Lohraseb—a friend and erstwhile student of mine. These young musicians came to the hall from New Haven in a bus, played a rehearsal, and then an unforgettable concert thereafter. Featured was the excellent young cellist Cicely Parnas in the Haydn Concerto no. 1, which she played with great energy and style, the orchestral accompaniment pristine. The big piece in the concert was Symphony no. 1 in  C minor of Johannes Brahms, which Louis conducted with his personal blend of exuberance and control. The slow movement was a thing of wonder—slow, not indulgent; gentle and powerful. We were taken straight to the lonely center of so much of Brahms’ music, a private communication with himself. The Finale built up a momentum that reminded me of the famous Leonard Bernstein rehearsal with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood in the 1980’s in which the piece absolutely caught fire. The movement is notoriously difficult to conduct; reconciling its many sections would seem to be a skill accessible only to the experienced. In Louis’ hands it ignited. Listeners were crying in the aisles afterwards. There is a future for classical music—I just heard it.

It was blessed to be in the Hall a few days later, and be close to the first-rate players of the Mozart Orchestra of New York and their conductor Gerard Schwartz, performing the last three symphonies of Mozart. This was an energetic, straight concert led magisterially and with humility by Mr. Schwartz. He let the music speak, as much a listener as a conductor. The players showed clearly that modern instrument orchestras can play music from 1787 very well indeed. There is very little in music which can compare to the sensation of the Jupiter Symphony’s last movement—a whirling miracle of musical energy which repeats the Credo in unum Deum from the Coronation Mass, and glorifies it in every conceivable way, ending up with the best coda in all of music. It is as if the whole universe is singing. The magnificent strife between structure and energy raises the hair on the back of your neck. This collective orchestra played it with love, not out of a sense of duty.

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