Philharmonic audiences this weekend are privileged to hear the American premiere of Swedish composer Jan Sandstrom's 1996 Trumpet Concerto No. 2.
The opening sets the tone for all three movements -- widely spaced pizzicato figures with a lot of silence in between; a soft, slow staccato trumpet theme over weepy woodwinds followed by welling orchestral chords with crisp percussion exclamation points; and rampant syncopation giving the spare orchestral continuum a predominantly bouncy feeling.
Later there would be an almost obsessively repeated falling interval; a few instances of full, euphonious orchestral sonority; and in the final movement some dazzling trumpet virtuosity and a richly dissonant, intense hymn-like passage. But for the most part, the impression left by both orchestra and solo trumpet lines was of a big, quirky open musical tapestry fitted together from myriad small sound bites, the widely varied texture of which was as much concerned with the silences in between as the often wildly imaginative sound snippets that partially filled the void.
Clever and quite original, the concerto is a mine field of rhythmic booby traps, and it seemed that the orchestra, on limited rehearsal, negotiated its way through most of them very well.
Pehlivanian's best work with the orchestra was in the concluding Schumann Symphony No. 2. Especially in the slow movement and finale he and the orchestra brought out the music's romantic soul very compellingly. The sonority was especially tight, warm and cohesive in the slow movement, while the ebullient finale's outgoing spirit was abetted by extremely well balanced ensemble sonority.
The first movement had opened with a ragged attack, but Pehlivanian progressively firmed things up, and the movement's urgency came through convincingly, while the Scherzo, in spite of an uncertain ritard going into the trio section, was excitingly propelled.
This more than balanced the dynamically unbridled and often strident sounding Prelude to Wagner's "Die Meistersinger," which had opened the program.
Conducted by George Pehlivanian, featuring trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger.
Saturday evening in Kleinhans Music Hall; repeat at 2:30 p.m.