BOEN TURNS IN ROUSING HORN SOLO
John Cutler, Music Critic, The Lincoln (Nebraska) Star
French horn players will tell you they just don't get a chance sometimes.
Not so with Jan Bach's Horn Concerto, and a rousing performance of soloist Jonathan Boen with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra.
Jan Bach (no relation to Johann) wrote the work under a 1982 commission expressly for Boen and the Orchestra of Illinois. The Lincoln Symphony performance was the first in Nebraska and only the fourth public presentation of the work.
The Lincoln Symphony kept the new work together well through a wandering first movement in which Bach places the orchestra's horn section off-stage, as if to keep them away from a star soloist. New themes are added and become inspirations for other themes until the movement ends in an abrupt climax.
The second movement, entitled Elegy and Scherzo, continues the first movement's frenzy, but introduces some new, lyric themes, again handled with eloquence by the virtuosic Boen.
Some theatrics are presented in the concluding movement.
Soloist Boen tries to get into the act, but is "upstaged" by other soloists - the viola, the flute, others; Boen looks on these players with disdain, cued to do so by the score.
Jazz motifs are introduced in percussion; the orchestra takes up the cause. Finally, the entire horn section joins Boen in front for a driving conclusion.
The success of the Bach concerto was not offset by a few intonation problems in the upper strings, and the outstanding performances of Boen and the orchestra's French horn performers deserve kudos.
The flu must be hitting us hard. There were numerous empty seats, several usually filled by the most faithful of symphony-goers. The evening was certainly one of the orchestra's best, and a shining exhibition by soloist Boen brought smiles and extra rounds of applause from those in the house.