Bangor Daily News, Ellsworth American Review ConcertsNovember 7, 2012
BSO Brightens the Day with Beethoven, Mendelssohn
By Emily Burnham, BDN staff
It’s not always the case that there are two clear highlights of a particular Bangor Symphony Orchestra concert, but attendees at Sunday afternoon’s performance were in luck, thanks to a riveting showing from piano soloist Alon Goldstein and a nuanced interpretation of a Beethoven masterwork by conductor Lucas Richman.
Goldstein performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, a dreamy, imaginative, romantic work last performed by the Bangor Symphony eight years ago. Goldstein is as fierce a player as he is delicate, as the lively first movement gave way to a lyrical andante second movement, imbued with much quiet passion. But it was somewhere in between the andante and the fiery third movement that Goldstein made new fans out of most of the audience; his virtuosity in full effect, coupled with his ability to communicate emotion to listeners, brought concertgoers to their feet at its conclusion.
Goldstein obliged them by performing Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Danzas Argentinas,” a wildly different composition from the Mendelssohn; all dissonant chords and fluctuating rhythms, veering from an industrial tango to crashing walls of sound. It was an exhilarating surprise, a blast of contemporary passion amid a program of romantic and classical favorites.
The second half of the program was devoted entirely to Beethoven’s Third Symphony, known popularly as the “Eroica.” The stirring, powerful Third is a kind of fan favorite of the composer’s, full of excitement and sweeping themes. Special credit must be given to the symphony’s woodwind and brass sections — in particular the oboes and French horns — for their deft, fluid performance. In another conductor’s hands, the timing might have been off, or the complex, bold final movement might have lacked some finesse, but Richman has a way of getting the BSO to be at their best. On the first day of Daylight Standard Time, as darkness arrived earlier than usual, Richman and the BSO brought a little extra light into the day.
The BSO will next perform with the Robinson Ballet for the annual “Nutcracker” performances on Dec. 15 and 16; the next Masterworks concert is set for Jan 27, featuring a program of Bach, Mozart and Mahler.
BSO Rises to Challenge of Beethoven's "Eroica"
Written by Win Pusey
— The Bangor Symphony’s second concert of the season, under the
direction of Maestro Lucas Richman, was presented on Sunday at the
Collins Center for the Arts in Orono.
The afternoon’s program began with Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute,” continued with the Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 by Felix Mendelssohn and climaxed with Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major.
The layers of
intrigue, secret Masonic messages and veiled royal resemblances, which
make up Mozart’s final opera (or ‘Singspiel’) are hardly even apparent
to the innocent listener.
The provenance of the libretto, alone, has
confused generations of musicologists but the music is pure Mozart in
his last year of life.
From the simple folk style of the feathery
duo, Papageno and Papagena, to the raging fury of the Queen of the
Night, it satisfies everyone.
The Overture, however, like most
written in this period, makes little reference to the succeeding score.
The first three chords are heard again later and there is a stammering
motif suggestive of the ‘Papas,’ but otherwise it stands on its own.
picked a good tempo for this piece but it took a few tipsy measures to
get there. After that, the entrances were right on, especially the
second violin statement of the first theme. The articulation of fast
passages in the lower strings was also admirable. Balance between brass
and strings could have been a bit more subtle, but the effect was a good
Alan Goldstein, the soloist for the Mendelssohn Piano
Concerto, stamped his mark on the composition in the first piano
episode. He was clean, solid and stylistically true. It is a virtuoso
piece technically but without pyrotechnics — no big cadenzas, just
thousands of octaves, supersonic scales and keyboard-long arpeggios.
according to the Harvard Biographical Dictionary, was pretty much
aligned with Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven, disregarding the
burgeoning romanticism of Berlioz et al, and the concerto reflects this
The second movement, a tender Andante, was particularly well
played by both soloist and orchestra. It is, as Laura Artesani noted,
very much like one of the “Songs Without Words,” over an orchestration
of celli, violas, bassoon and horn.
Goldstein’s legato touch was
refined and warm without being sensual. A brass fanfare, which formed
the passages between each movement came as an abrupt end to this
mid-autumn’s eve dream but it set up the third movement, Allegro, like a
Indeed, the conventional wisdom of pianists seems to be play
it like the devil is on your tail. It is as hard to control as a race
horse but both soloist and orchestra held the reins so that the notes
could be somewhat distinguished, one from the other.
Only in the coda was it allowed to run free and the effect was smashing.
audience loved it, demanding an encore, which turned out to be a
super-bravura dance by the Argentinian composer, Alberto Ginastera. It
sounded like Scott Joplin on steroids and was met with thundering
approval from the listeners.
If there be one name in classical music
that more humans know than any other, it is Beethoven. So much has been
written, spoken, filmed and dreamed about this composer that it goes
beyond music into a universal symbolism of greatness.
symphony, ‘Eroica’ is the one which begins to define him for us,
followed by the 5th and the incomparable 9th. Orchestras since 1805 have
been struggling to interpret the scope of this work, which, in turn,
The long first movement, Allegro con brio, has
monumental proportions, developing its themes in ways unheard of before
Beethoven broke the mold.
Richman and the musicians of the Bangor
Orchestra know this music. They have lived with Beethoven all their
lives. The phrasing, the marvelous dynamics, the modulations and motifs
tossed from one instrument to another were a joy to hear. If the
symphony ended there it would still be a glorious piece.
doesn’t. The second movement, of funeral fame, in minor mode, requires a
depth of sound and emotion very difficult to achieve. It was played in
an appropriately somber style but it wanted to have bows dug deeper into
strings and winds hollowed into some kind of mystery.
Woodwinds are to be complimented on the change of color when the music goes into major in the middle of this movement and special mention should be made of Michael Albert, oboist, who subbed for Louis Hall. His solos were excellent.
The third movement, Scherzo, trips everybody if they are
not careful. It can’t make up its mind between triple and duple meter.
Then, out of nowhere, the horns come a-hunting in the trio. On the
repetitions, everything was fine.
The Finale, Allegro, is a Theme and
Variations, again a wide deviation from past symphonic form. It allowed
Beethoven free range of expression within a tune not unlike a
children’s song. Some of the fugal passages got a bit out of sync, but
the overall interpretation was exciting and very rewarding.
The orchestra has melded itself together under Richman. Basses and celli consistently provide strong foundational tone, the woodwinds are fine soloists as well as ensemble players and the upper strings, especially the second violins, have achieved a good unison sound. All together, they make up a truly worthy symphony orchestra.
Bangor Symphony Orchestra announces lineup for 2013-2014 season
BSO gives powerful performance of Stabat Mater