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Keep it Classical: Syracuse Symphony Orchestra Review by mklaing


images1Being one of my very favorite orchestral pieces, I doubt weather there could be a performance of Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony that I wouldn’t like. With that said, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra performance of the New World Symphony, which concluded their concert on Saturday night, was one of the weaker performances that I have seen them give.  Besides a couple of noticeable errors in the brass section, intonation in the strings was sometimes questionable, and the ensemble was not always precisely together. However, the beautifully phrased flute solo in the second movement was a highlight of the piece, and there were other powerful moments which made it an enjoyable performance overall. This piece is always an audience favorite, and the overwhelming applause showed that Saturday night’s crowd was not phased by the few minor glitches.

The concert opened with a piece by Karl Husa, an American composer who taught at Cornell University for a time.  This eleven minute piece, “Fresque,” really drew me in at two moments: the beginning and the end. It both started and finished with a very soft tremelo (rapid back and forth bow motion) on one note. As the piece grew out of the opening, however, the dissonance was often too harsh for my taste, and there was no clear melodic line. It began to captivate me again as it became more and more gentle and eventually returned to where it started. Often we think that a piece has to transform and evolve into something different by the end to be effective, but in this case it seems that coming full circle can be just as effective.

Russian-born violinist Philippe Quint was very talented as a performer, but I wished he had chosen a different piece to exhibit his talent He played the Korngold violin concerto, which had some lovely themes, especially in the romantic and lyrical second movement, but most of the time reminded me too much of something out of a musical. In fact, Erich Wolfgang Korngold did work as a film composer and spent the later part of his life in Hollywood. He wrote the film score for “Robinhood” among others. Many of the themes from the violin concerto are closely related to themes in some of his film works, and it is unknown which actually came first. In any case, Mr. Quint’s performance was well received and he treated the audience to an encore: music from the movie The Red Violin. About three minutes in length, to me this quick encore was more enjoyable than the entire concerto.

The next concert on the SSO’s Classic Series is March 20th and 21st and includes Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

-Meredith Laing, Managing Editor 

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