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Review: National Youth Orchestra Impresses With ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ at Carnegie Hall

The Swiss-born conductor Charles Dutoit, a major maestro with a special affinity for French repertory, has conducted Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” with many of the world’s great orchestras. But it’s hard to imagine he has ever worked with more eager, attentive players as he had on Saturday night at Carnegie Hall when he concluded a concert by theNational Youth Orchestra of the United States of America with a colorful, probing account of that demanding staple.

The orchestra, a training program founded and run by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, began in 2013. This summer, it selected 110 gifted instrumentalists between the ages of 16 and 19 from American high schools and colleges in 37 states and brought them to Purchase College — part of the State University of New York — for two weeks of extensive work. The focal point was the preparation of Saturday’s concert. It opened with a new piece by Tan Dun, then offered the pianist Yundi as soloist in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto.

The “Symphonie Fantastique” was the highlight and, surely, a high point in the performing lives of these dedicated student musicians. From the richness of the sound and the dexterity of execution, it was clear that Mr. Dutoit had an impressively talented roster of young players palpably inspired by the chance to perform this visionary 1830 piece under his guidance.


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