Canton Symphony’s 80th Season Opener Climaxes with Respighi

20/10/2017

Barber, Saint-Saëns, Respighi: Lauren Roth (violin), Canton Symphony Orchestra / Gerhardt Zimmerman (conductor), Umstattd Performing Arts Hall, Canton, Ohio. 14.10.2017. (TW)

Barber – Second Essay for Orchestra, Op.17

Saint-Saëns – Concerto No.3 in b minor for Violin and Orchestra

Respighi – Fountains of Rome; Pines of Rome

In his program comments celebrating the 80th season of the Canton Symphony Orchestra, music director Gerhardt Zimmermann wrote, “Why do I love conducting this wonderful orchestra?…The CSO is that rare gem of orchestras that conductors seek to make music with. Their playing is committed, heartfelt, powerful, and above all, exciting.”

For the season opener on October 14, that rare gem dazzled with exceptional brilliance, beginning with Samuel Barber’s Second Essay For Orchestra (1942). It’s a marvelous single movement of interwoven, contrasting themes and developments, and represents Barber’s passionately lyrical aesthetic. Here the ensemble perfectly captured the changing moods – a landscape of emotions in sumptuous orchestral colors – with compelling precision and sonority. The briefly tranquil opening theme gave way to darker, more foreboding passages. Those in turn transitioned to more pastoral interludes, with melodic counterpoints that eventually morphed into the majestic and triumphal solemnity of the explosive conclusion. The audience was clearly thrilled.

Lauren Roth, a former CSO concertmaster and now leader of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, returned to Canton to perform Camille Saint-Saëns’ lavish Concerto No. 3. This homecoming was all the more exciting, given that this was the first time Roth performed the concerto with an orchestra, though you’d never guess it from her virtuosic delivery, fluidity, and authority. Roth’s demeanor, at once gently measured and aggressive, was evident in both her stance and facial expressions.

She was communing with not only the ensemble, but also with her instrument, making it sing in a marvelous range, and at times demanding its submission to the many technical challenges. Her playing was especially poignant during the second movement, when the graceful violin melody engaged in a delicate dance with the woodwinds. Throughout, she articulated Saint-Saëns’ lush cadenzas with bravura: ravishing in their fast arpeggios and scales, double stops, and flawless ascensions into high-pitched harmonics.

The rich score for Respighi’s Pini di Roma calls for 92 members strong, a substantially larger group than usual, providing an unprecedented aural depth. While Fountains was utterly enchanting, it was in the final movement of Pines – “the pines of the Appian Way” – when the orchestra became unified in its flamboyance. Respighi described the finale as the “unceasing rhythm of numberless footsteps. A vision of ancient glories appears to the poet’s fantasy: trumpets blare, and a consular army bursts forth in the brilliance of the newly-risen sun.”

A low, rumbling, relentless cadence, suggesting an army on the march, reverberated through the hall in ever-loudening layers, making the heart race. Waves of brassy martial trudging engulfed the audience, augmented by extra players standing in the side aisles. Maestro Zimmermann was particularly animated, turning this way and that, like a general rallying his troops. The final jubilant chord was a piercing blast, as if all of Roman history had passed in a protracted sonic boom.

Tom Wachunas

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Some Forthcoming London Events from Temple Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House Cinema Festival Begins Monday 3 December in State-of-the-Art Linbury Theatre __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet at the London Coliseum 13 December 2018 – 20 January 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Sándor Végh Memorial Concerts 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Perform Amahl and the Night Visitors in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ELIM CHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Iain Farrington’s Mahler Piano Series was an Extraordinary Marathon __________________________________
  • NEW! Vancouver New Music’s Quartetti Festival: Recharging the Contemporary String Quartet __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST ANGELA HEWITT IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Montserrat Caballé (1933 – 2018): A Personal Tribute by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! The Future of Opera is Theatre: An Essay by Casey Creel __________________________________
  • NEW! Jacqui and David Morris’s New Documentary Film Nureyev Celebrates a Unique Man and Dancer __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GESUALDO SIX IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • NEW! THE PIANIST GEORGE HARLIONO IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month