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Inquirer 2001 Jan

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"...Fleischer is writing efficient music that seeks an accommodation between rock and the formalities of concert music. Fleischer commands strings ably, balancing clarity and weight in writing that colored the texts...."

 

Morrison Softer in classical context

by Daniel Webster

 

 

Meeting Jim Morrison at a chamber orchestra concert is an idea with cosmic and comic reverberations, but conductor composer Randall Craig Fleischer showed it to be one within reach. The 41-year-old musician conducted the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia in a concert Monday at the Convention Center.

 

The piece is written for strings and a narrator, who spoke lines that sound much more angry when Morrison was howling from the stage in the late ‘60’s as lead of The Doors. Now, they sound a little impudent, probably because they have been copied and enlarged upon. These tough, challenging words, once flung in the face, land a little softly.

 

Nevertheless, Fleischer is writing efficient music that seeks an accommodation between rock and the formalities of concert music. Meeting a tight canon in the opening bars reflected the jolt of meeting Morrison, dead these 30 years, in these classical confines. Fleischer commands strings ably, balancing clarity and weight in writing that colored the texts (spoken by Thaddeus Phillips). Because Morrison hammed at the steel bars of convention and complacency, his target was American society. Fleischer neatly sends the strings into a distorted echo of “America” as the narration mocks Morrison’s prime targets.

 

The work probably won’t rouse an audience to take to the streets - for rock, classicism or for poetry - but it packages an idea, a fusion of disparates.

 

Fleischer bracketed his work with Serenades by Elgar and Tchaikovsky, ad with two works that featured harpist Elizabeth Hainen.

 

Since joining the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1994, her playing has moved from a brittle, cool weightlessness to something more appealing and expressive. In works by Handel and Debussy, she played with her accustomed clarity and precision, but warmed both with sounds that reflected the orchestra’s sonorities and flow.

 

In the Handel Concerto in B-flat, her fingers touched energy and spirit, building interest through a wide dynamic range and kinds of attack. The extended cadenza of the middle movement catalogued the instrument’s sonic glories. In Debussy’s Danses Sacree et Profane, her ability to blend and color the musical line, to find transparency in an almost timeless atmosphere, made it the central piece of the evening.

 

The conductor, in his debut with the ensemble, led a convincing reading of Elgar’s Serenade in E Minor and closing with the shimmering Serenade in C by Tchaikovsky.