“Simplicity is the last refuge of the complex,” according to Oscar Wilde. Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”), performed at Merrill Auditorium Tuesday night by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, with the Choral Art Society Masterworks Chorus, soprano Mary Wilson and the Boston Children’s Chorus, is a case in point.

It was narrated by the composer’s eldest daughter, Jamie Bernstein, with her own text. The trend of Bernstein’s unresolved argument with God, the theme of the symphony, is toward simplicity, and the new spoken version seems to have been sanitized a bit as well. As it is, the symphony must be considered unfinished, since the narrative it illustrates is still a work in progress.

That said, the orchestra, under Robert Moody, gave the jagged score, which flirts with serialism – in a Latin beat – a superlative performance, enhanced by Wilson’s marvelously clear and powerful voice. She could be heard, sotto voce, over the massed choruses.

A full review will appear in the Portland Press Herald.


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