Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns – Full Review
Expectations turned upside down at the debut concert of First Editions Chamber Orchestra, newly formed by James Freeman, the man who retired from Orchestra 2001 after 27 years, but who hardly seems through with the new-music business. Premieres by Cynthia Folio and Heidi Jacob were on Sunday’s concert. . . . But another part of the ensemble’s mandate is performing early Mozart. . . .In the slow movement [Piano Concerto K. 271], Freeman was after 19th-century intensity without ruffling the piece’s 18th-century outer garments. It worked. He seemed swept up with Mozart in ways that should have happened years ago. Piano soloist Charles Abramovic. . . colored the music’s sequential repetition with great insight. Abramovic often went beyond mere grace and poetry, turning the cadenzas into miniature epics.
The Swarthmorean, Pete Prown – Full Review
Conductor James Freeman is familiar to admirers of Swarthmore College’s resident ensemble Orchestra 2001 (which he founded and served for 27 years as artistic director), but on Friday he brought his latest classical venture to Lang Concert Hall, the Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS. This ensemble serves to contrast the early work of Mozart with edgy contemporary music in a way that’s both aurally pleasing and educational. . . . The interpretation of early classical-era work was rapturous. . . . After intermission, maestro Freeman brought out the acclaimed pianist Charles Abramovic to perform Mozart’s beloved Piano Concerto in E flat major. With his keyboard virtuosity rippling through the air of Lang Hall with superb accompaniment from the musicians (including several students from area colleges), it was hard not to appreciate the larger context of the moment. Not only did the audience enjoy wonderful music, but it was all presented on a quiet afternoon for free. As the lights went up and the applause subsided, we were already looking forward to future concerts from the superb Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS.