Shore's new Cello Concerto premiered in April, and Allison Silvieus provided a short write-up in The Millbrook Independent:
Cellist Sophie Shao followed Marcovics’ performance in Howard Shore’s 2011 world premiere, Mythic Gardens. The concerto was commissioned for Shao, made financially possible by Linda and Stuart Nelson.
Shao, native to Houston, Texas, studied with Shirley Trepel, former principal cellist of the Houston Symphony. She received a B.A. in religious studies from Yale and an M.M. from the Yale school of Music. She is a faculty member at Vassar college and Bard College’s Conservatory of Music.
Shao performs throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. The New York Times praised her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations. According to Peter Laki, visiting professor of music to Bard, she will appear this year as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Keith Lockhart in performances of the Elgar and Shostakovich concerti two-week tour. She can also be heard on EMI Classics, Bridge Records and on Albany Records.
While Howard Shore is most well-known for his score of Lord of the Rings, he is an expert in concertos as well. Mythic Gardens “is based on the composer’s feelings upon visiting three sumptuous gardens in Italy—Cimbrone in Ravello on the Amalfi coast, the Medici gardens in Florence and the Villa Litta near Milan,” according to Peter Laki, visiting professor of music to Bard.
The first movement, Cimbrone was peaceful, yet displayed Shao’s impressive finger movement with sections of quick-tempos as well. The second peace, Medici was similar to Brubeck’s in that it was slow and mellow, achieving a depth of musicality by the orchestra and feeling by the audience. The final Visconti Borromeo Litta ends with a vibrant, full orchestra accompanying Shao.
The evening ended with two full orchestra concertos by Lutoslawski and Bartók. Hearing the two concertos in one concert was a rare opportunity because one affected the other. Bartók composed in total freedom, whereas Lutoslawski composed during the communist regime of Stalin. ASO performed both well and the connection between the two was evident.
While the whole night was filled with musicality, Marcovics and Shao were the highlight. Their naturalness as musicians intrigued the audience, who responded in loud praise to both musicians.
The review of the full concert -- which also included a new trombone concerto by Christopher Brubeck, son of the great Dave Brubeck -- can be read HERE.