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Globe 1989 Oct

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"...This performance was big, colorful and intense, without ever turning vulgar. Fleischer is a conductor who isn’t afraid to get his shirt wet, and it was easy to hear the open-hearted qualities that attracted the attention and admiration of the National Symphony’s music director, Mstislav Rostropovich. This, too, is a career to watch...."

 

A Career To Watch

by Richard Dyer

 

Sunday night’s Tanglewood concert was the showcase for the summer’s two conducting fellows, Marin Alsop, who has just been named music director of the Eugene (Ore.) Symphony, and Randall Fleischer, assistant conductor of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.

 

A note at the bottom of the program informed the audience that the concert was prepared under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, and it certainly was - in hours of rehearsal with the orchestra Bernstein went through every phrase of Hindemith’s “Mathis der Mahler” with Alsop and Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony with Fleischer. The process was exhausting and exhilarating to watch, and no one was more exhilarated and, finally, exhausted than Bernstein himself, who stayed home from the concert, battling the flu and mindful of his own programs.

 

There was little doubt he would have been proud of his two students.

 

“Mathis” was perhaps the more difficult work. A major contributor was the flute soloist Karen Jones, whose breath control and eloquence had Bernstein raving all week. There was a scary moment in the third movement, “Temptation of St. Anthony”, whose notorious difficulties Bernstein breezily characterized as “a bitch”; what was impressive here was how secure most of it was, and how immediately Alsop was able to get things back on track. There are things she still needs to learn, but she is in touch with music and with her own feelings and can communicate their interaction to orchestra and audience. This is a career to watch.

 

Fleischer’s Prokofiev demonstrated that his accident the other night in a Rossini Overture was an aberration. This performance was big, colorful and intense, without ever turning vulgar; he didn’t succeed in making the symphony hold together better than it does, but all the events and incidents made their proper effect and most of the playing was terrific. Fleischer is a conductor who isn’t afraid to get his shirt wet, and it was easy to hear the open-hearted qualities that attracted the attention and admiration of the National Symphony’s music director, Mstislav Rostropovich. This, too, is a career to watch.