MUSIC REVIEW | Minnesota Orchestra’s “West Side Story” in Shakespeare Winterfest: Unexpectedly cool

The Minnesota Orchestra’s Shakespeare Winterfest is a wonderful piece of season programming. Using material connected to the works of William Shakespeare provides an often-missing focus to a stylistically disparate body of music, and lets listeners hear first-hand how different composers interpreted the same plays. The varying proportion of Shakespeare-related material in a given concert is a strength, as a whole month of nothing but this music might have grown tiresome – but sprinkled here and there and sometimes concentrated, it works quite well. Larsson’s A Winter’s Tale, for example, contrasts excellently with Dvořák’s more familiar New World Symphony, even though the latter having nothing whatsoever to do with the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon. The New World Symphony would have been even better paired against Dvořák’s Romeo and Juliet overture, but since the latter work has been lost, it remains an impossible match. Continue Reading