February 19, 2017 Review: The Sparkling Flute of Mimi Stillman plus Three Provocative New Works

Broadstreet Review, Tom Purdom – Full Review

“Stillman’s performance at the FIRST EDITIONS concert drew a well-deserved round of applause at the end of the first movement. Stillman has described the slow movement as an “aria for flute”; she gave it an operatic mix of technique and expression, lyricism, and jauntiness…

…The first two pieces at the FIRST EDITIONS concert … both had an edge … perhaps because of the subject matter. Robert Maggio’s Bright Elegy is a memorial to his mother and Ingrid Arauco’s Via Cordis captures the mysticism of the desert…

… Curt Cacioppo’s A Meeting of Souls is essentially a fantasy based on the famous air in the second movement of Bach’s third orchestral suite. Cacioppo wrote it because a conductor wanted to play the suite with a modern substitute for Bach’s original. Cacioppo started with a good foundation and used it to produce something uniquely his own—a true meeting between a modern spirit and one of the greatest souls in music history…

…The concert ended with an eight-minute work Mimi Stillman premiered at a 2015 Dolce Suono concert. Zhou Tian’s Viajeis based on the saga of the Spanish hero El Cid and the trials of his daughters. This is the third time I’ve heard some version of it, and I can understand why Stillman keeps it in her repertory. The flute passages and orchestration evoke all the gallantry and tenderness of the subject.”

February 23, 2016 – Premier concert

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.