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Great review for Anu Tali in the New York Times

Great review for Anu Tali in the New York Times

Nordic Program Clarifies Goals For a Conductor In the Wings By JAMES R. OESTREICH January 15, 2005, Saturday NEWARK, Jan. 13 -- When Neeme Jarvi takes over as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra next fall, he will inherit a major task and a potential mission. Both seemed clear in the orchestra's concert here at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Thursday night, conducted not by Mr. Jarvi but by his 32-year-old Estonian compatriot, Anu Tali. The task will be to make the woodwind and brass players perform with the polish, subtlety, warmth and cohesiveness of the string players, newly empowered by the orchestra's acquisition of a cache of valuable string instruments. Despite Ms. Tali's best efforts, and they were considerable, supporting passages in the winds sometimes jarred, especially in Sibelius's Fifth Symphony, a consummately organic work that suffers more than most from imbalances. That said, Ms. Tali elicited an excellent performance over all, catching most of the symphony's majesty if not all of its mystery. The long sweeps and mighty surges were all in place, nowhere more than at the end of the first movement, where an accelerating crescendo runs head on into a wall of silence. Though too hidebound myself to applaud between movements of a symphony, I was tempted to join the many in the audience who did. The program was the second of three in the orchestra's annual winter festival, this year called Northern Lights. It also included works more obscure and more popular: Niels Gade's Mendelssohnian concert overture ''Hamlet'' and Grieg's ever-popular Piano Concerto. Ms. Tali acquitted herself well here, too, and the Grieg came with another powerful attraction: the remarkable 17-year-old Chinese-born pianist Yujia Wang. Ms. Wang, a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, performed with an assurance that belied her age, displaying a clean, sparkling technique and plenty of strength but also a fine sense of rhythmic freedom. The current young lions among Chinese-born pianists, Lang Lang and Yundi Li, had better start looking over their shoulders. As for Mr. Jarvi's mission, should he accept it: with his obvious taste for Nordic music and with a readily available stable of maestros -- including his conducting sons, Paavo and Kristjan, and Ms. Tali -- to extend the Nordic range, he seems to be ideally placed to develop a specialty with this orchestra much the way Charles Dutoit did in French music with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. As there, it would come as added value and needn't detract all that much from the orchestra's typical repertory. You have to think that having conceived Northern Lights even before he arrives officially, he wants to do something like that. In any case, he will be back to conclude the festival next week, with works of Carl Nielsen and Sibelius.