Wineke: “Premiere Debut” is good music but weirdly titled

Kelly Hall Tompkins

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is one of the world’s great musicians and his “Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra” is probably going to go down as a masterpiece of 21st-century music.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra featured it in its weekend concerts and invited violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins as its featured musician. She did a wonderful job and the presentation was a big success.

Personally, I kept getting caught up in the advertising for the concert, which called it a “Premiere Debut.”

This is the first time the concerto has been performed in Madison and this is also the first time Hall-Tompkins has played here. But the concerto was first performed in 2015 in Barbican Hall, London, and Hall-Tompkins has wowed audiences all over the world, including 13 months on Broadway when she was featured violinist for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

So, I guess the premiere and debut were for the Madison audience and we did enjoy it.

The concerto is an eclectic reflection on modern life. Parts of it pay homage to Bernstein, parts of it pay homage to southern wedding receptions. The four movements are titled, “Rhapsody, Rondo Burlesque, Blues and Hootenany.”

That pretty much sums it up.

Hall-Tompkins played brilliantly. She is not a flamboyant performer (although, since she as well as the other musicians were masked, it would be hard to tell) the audience’s attention was on the music, which was sweet.

Madison’s Greg Zelek, curator of the Overture Concert Organ, is a flamboyant performer but, as the orchestra performed Saint-Saens’ “organ” symphony, Zelek was sort of off in a corner.

The symphony, Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3 in C Minor,” is familiar and popular around the world.

The strange thing about it, given its name, is that the organ doesn’t really come into its own until five minutes before the conclusion. For most of the 36-minute piece, Zelek either doesn’t play at all or, basically, supports the rest of the orchestra.

No matter, whenever Zelek enters a stage, the audience is happy.