Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA
November 7, 2015
by Michael J. Moran
For the second concert of the SSO’s 72nd season and his own 15th season as music director, Kevin Rhodes gave the spotlight to two featured soloists from the orchestra in a varied program of two pieces from the baroque era, two from the classical period, and one from the 20th century.
The Overture from Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” began the concert in grand style, with brass and winds in full cry for the stately opening, followed by scampering strings in a lighter Bouree dance rhythm. Strings alone then followed with a lovely rendition of Albinoni’s heartfelt “Adagio in G minor,” in welcome contrast to Handel’s boisterous romp.
SSO principal trumpet Thomas Bergeron then stepped forward to center stage as soloist in Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major. The South Hadley native and veteran of the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra has performed widely with other classical and popular music ensembles, and is beginning his fifth season with the SSO. He dispatched the technical challenges of this virtuosic masterpiece with aplomb, and his lively playing in the opening and closing Allegros nicely complemented his quieter tone in the central Andante.
The concert continued after intermission with a ravishing account of Copland’s “Quiet City,” a nocturnal meditation that featured Bergeron again on trumpet and SSO principal oboist Nancy Dimock on English horn. The surprising delicacy of Bergeron’s instrument and the haunting beauty of Dimock’s playing were warmly supported by the SSO strings.
Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, the least often heard of his last three symphonies, brought the evening to a triumphant close. Its optimistic energy belies the financial difficulties that plagued the composer when it was written in 1788. As in the preceding Handel and Haydn works, Rhodes led the full SSO in the Mozart, but his careful balances and close attention to detail ensured that all three performances never sounded heavy-handed. From the lush opening Adagio and sprightly Allegro, the flowing Andante, the pert minuet and trio, to the exuberant finale, the intimacy of a period ensemble rewardingly met the richness of a modern symphony orchestra.