January 22, 2019

Two unique works from different eras and featuring different solo instruments bookended the massive choral presentations at Chamber Music Amarillo’s Concerto Extraordinaire, January 12 at the Amarillo Botanical Gardens.

Poppa Mozart’s work, “Trombone Concerto in D Major,” showcased the alto trombone, played by John Shanks. Composed for a trombone virtuoso the year of Wolfgang’s birth, this concerto was culled from a nine-part Serenata. This was a time when the trombone was finding its place in the evolution of the symphony, and the first two movments project a lyrical quality more akin to the French Horn.

The harmonics and modalities are consistent with the times. No surprises there. But, in the “Presto” Daddy M allows a sense of whimsy and humor, in contrast to the rigid, humorless father and father-in-law from hell portrayed in “Amadeus.”

Sergei Prokoviev’s “Violin Concerto #2” was written in Spain at the conclusion of an eighteen year exile from his Russian homeland. The work is an homage to the struggles of the Russian people, and the cult of heartbreak which frames Russian existence.

But the work is anything but a portrayal of maudlin sentimentality. In the words of the conductor, Michael Palmer, in this piece “Romanticism meets Industrialism!”

The result is almost a mash-up between Tchaikovski and Stravinski. Poignant passages suddenly descend into pulses of anarchy, never allowing the listener a comfort zone. And Annie Chalex Boyle, both interpretively and technically, embraced the challenges of this daunting work and made it her own.

Two concertos and two works for chorus and orchestra, one of which was a world premier made this Concerto Extraordinaire truly extraordinary! Thus we can proudly proclaim: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!!”

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