Canton Symphony’s 80th Season Opener Climaxes with Respighi


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


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018 Blossom Music Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! LA Opera’s 2018/19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Buxton Festival 2018 and its New CEO __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Violinist Liza Ferschtman Celebrates Bernstein’s Centenary in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group to Perform Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at Cadogan Hall __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB’s 2018 Emerging Dancer will be Chosen at the London Coliseum on 11 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Akram Khan’s Giselle for ENB Can be Seen in Cinemas from 25 April __________________________________
  • NEW! BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H