Without going into an exhaustive review, the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies is worth seeing, but disappointing in ways - one in particular - that I didn't expect. One of the biggest reasons to check out this production (imported from the Kennedy Center) is the 28-piece orchestra, smartly conducted by James Moore, playing Jonathan Tunick's original version of Sondheim's nostalgic, thrillingly acid score. That said, the group is miked, and instead of hearing the ensemble bloom in the Marquis Theater, the result is amplified and funneled through a large center speaker over the stage. Any sense of "the music resounding in space" is gone; it's like gearing up for the Met Orchestra in Tosca, only to find out that you're going to hear the result through the speaker on an iPhone.
Of all the 9/11 music over the weekend - and there was a lot that I had to miss - two vastly different events left the most satisfying afterglow. On Saturday night, Alan Gilbert led a stirring Mahler "Resurrection" with Dorothea Röschmann, Michelle DeYoung, New York Choral Artists and the New York Philharmonic. Outside Avery Fisher Hall, hundreds watched the concert on the plaza, while inside, over 700 9/11 first-responders were part of the packed house. If the interpretation will have some aficionados arguing, Gilbert nailed the mood; the friend with me (who had never heard the piece) thought it an almost ideal offering. More good news: the concert will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in October.
On Sunday afternoon, for over 850 people crowded into the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - and many more listening live - Ryan McAdams and The Wordless Music Orchestra gave a quietly reflective program starting with Golijov, Marshall and Schnittke. (WQXR has the concert available for listening here.) The final work, The Disintegration Loops, dlp 1.1 (2001) by William Basinski (orchestrated by Maxim Moston) was created from a melody on tape experiencing gradual erosion as the iron oxide particles disappeared; over about 40 minutes, the players repeat a minimal motif that gradually devolves into a low hum, and then: nothing. The graceful, exquisite moment that followed - McAdams, the musicians and the audience utterly silent - might have been the most beautiful part of the whole weekend.