American Symphony Orchestra Presents "Music of the Other Germany"
There's nothing ordinary about Leon Botstein's programming. The music director of the American Symphony Orchestra fashioned a Sunday afternoon concert at Lincoln Center under the rubric "Music of the Other Germany." It was preceded by a fascinating talk by this remarkable scholar-musician-college president-intellectual catalyst about music, the arts, and life in general in the 40-year period (1949-1989) in what was the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The program consisted of works by Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), Rudolf Wagner-Régeny (1903-1969), Paul Dessau (1894-1979), Udo Zimmermann (b. 1943) and Siegfried Matthus (b. 1934). A surprisingly large turn-out for an all-20th-century program of little-known composers signaled its appreciation with lusty applause.
Of particular interest was the final selection, Siegfried Matthus's Responso, here receiving its New York premiere. Stemming from 1977 and first performed by the Dresden Staatskapelle under Herbert Blomstedt, this concerto for orchestra "responds" to past musical traditions, simultaneously bowing to the aesthetics of composers as diverse as Stravinsky, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Bach, and Brahms while clearly extending these traditions into the language of our own day.
Both the Zimmermann (Sinfonia come un grande lamento, In memory of F. García Lorca) and the Matthus permitted each section of the orchestra to demonstrate its virtuosity and flexibility. The American Symphony Orchestra gives New York City a musical dimension not to be found elsewhere.