by Nicholas Jones
The brilliant German conductor David Afkham, returning to Blossom where he debuted in July of 2011, brought fire and freshness to a familiar program of music by Beethoven and Schubert. A former Dudamel conducting fellow, Afkham shares with his mentor a focus on the details coupled with an unflagging sense of the big picture.
The opening piece was Beethoven’s stormy “Coriolanus” overture (in C minor: the rest of the program moved to the sunnier key of C major). While there was a little rhythmic uncertainty as the piece began, the conductor soon established control. Afkham has a sure hold on how important contrast is to Beethoven: the overture unmistakably showed the contrast between the angular theme that depicts the overbearing Roman general with its abrupt leaps and terrifying silences, and the gentler tune usually associated with the pleadings of Coriolanus’s mother. [Read more…]