Of The Inquirer Staff
William Smith opened his program with "Come Sweet Death" in memory of both President Truman and President Johnson. From then on, it was a program of bursting enthusiasm, a kind of musical reaffirmation of life.
On the program were works by David Amram and Joseph Castaldo, Philadelphians mining different veins of the musical lode, and a sonorous and often witty oboe piece by Jean Francaix.
THE AMRAM Triple Concerto was the grand finale. In it, Amram pits a jazz quintet, a brass quintet and a wind quintet against the full orchestra. The idiom is middle eastern with solo moments for Pakistani flute (played by Amram), for the quintets in concerto grosso style and for solo trumpet.
What Amram has done is to cleverly unite jazz and "classical" idioms in a way that shows there is very little difference - in intent, especially.
The music itself is full of life. Its pulse is irresistible even as it passes through a section of metrical intricacy which, in a concert piece might have seemed academic and unduly difficult. Here it made feet tap as Amram wove the flute line through the other instrumental writing.
THERE WAS an exotic cadenza for the flute, one which involved microtones, ornamentation at once jazz and ethnic in flavor. The slam-bang conclusion of the movement brought the audience to its feet; Amram's message had been understood perfectly.
The cadenza ant finale were played a second time, with a new cadenza that even involved Amram's drumming the melody on his head and on his cheeks.
Amram also has written music called "No More Walls," and his performance underlined his philosophy that there is no line between one kind of music and another.