Over his lengthy profession in Boston, conductor Richard Pittman presided not solely over Boston Musica Viva, with its concert events of his chosen new music performed by skilled musicians, but additionally over the Harmony Orchestra, composed largely of volunteers. His function with this latter orchestra proves that classical music may be properly served by small native orchestras, furthering curiosity in and promotion of this supposedly arcane style.
Dick Pittman suffered a significant stroke three years in the past, so Boston Musica Viva not exists, however the Harmony Orchestra survives, enormously improved over the greater than 50 years that he led it. Final Sunday afternoon’s live performance with conductor Eric Culver in his farewell efficiency with the orchestra, honored Pittman. The 4 works, two by his long-time good friend Bernard Hoffer, together with Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Charles Ives’s Symphony no. 2, referred to Pittman in varied methods.
The live performance at 51 Walden started with Bernard Hoffer’s quick however spirited Fanfare for Dick from 2009. The keenness of gamers and viewers made for a heart-warming begin to the night.
An American in Paris (1928) commemorated Dick’s well-known love of the town. The strings of the Harmony Orchestra amply proved their musical competence, as did the flutes. The horns and timpani, nevertheless, often sounded too loud, seeming to overlook Culver’s two very clear instructions for diminuendos.
Ives composed his second symphony in 1900-1902, greater than 20 years earlier than the better-known music of Aaron Copland used American people idioms. Some musicologists take into account the Ives the primary “American” symphony, provided that Dvořák merely referenced the American tunes in his “New World,” Symphony (1893) relatively than using them instantly. The Ives symphony, with its discernible quotations from blues, gospel, and people music, offers a variety of good solos for the trombone, which Nicole Brellenthin dealt with very properly. Culver famous after the live performance that Ives, “has an ear for Bruckner-style chorale writing: a really affectionate parody, set towards the ‘Pig City Fling’ and ‘Turkey within the Straw’.” He additionally famous that the trombone part did the refined Bruckner reference very properly.
The one printed version of Ives’s Symphony No. 2 provides no indication for bowing. From the archives of the New York Philharmonic, which include lots of the items carried out by the orchestra through the years and embody markings for the concertmaster (and principals), the Harmony gamers couldn’t solely mark their scores appropriately, nevertheless it helped with their interpretation. Once more, no complaints in regards to the competent enjoying. The flutes carried out an exquisite duet within the final part, with its prime motif “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” The basses, nevertheless, might have achieved better richness of tone by way of extra vibrato.
Pittman and Bernard Hoffer have been pals since Dick performed the trombone within the U.S. Military and Hoffer labored because the arranger. Their collaboration for the Kurt Weill Songbook began a number of years in the past, however Covid prevented the sooner deliberate premiere. Sadly, Hoffer needed to miss each the rehearsals and the live performance. The eight texts, starting from humorous to poignant, come from Ira Gershwin (My Ship, The Saga of Jenny, Tchaikovsky) Maxwell Anderson (The Little Grey Home, Misplaced within the Stars), Ogden Nash (Converse Low), and Langston Hughes (The Lonely Home). The orchestra did an incredible job of conveying Weill’s altering feelings. Baritone Jeffrey Korn projected stellar empathy with the texts and rating by way of crystal-clear enunciation and mellifluous tone. The amusing patter-song “Tchaikovsky,” a laundry checklist of Russian composers, earned two encores. Over instrumental interludes, Korn spoke of what every music evoked in regards to the composer, Dick, and the ability of music.
Dick Pittman deserved each little bit of this tribute.
Bettina A. Norton, emerita editor of the Intelligencer, is a retired museum skilled. She has printed extensively in her discipline, American historic prints, and in later years, was editor and writer of The Beacon Hill Chronicle. She has been attending classical music concert events “because the waning years of World Conflict II.”