Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 15, 2008

The Cello, Springfield Symphony

Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
October 11, 2008
by Debra Tinkham

The continuing celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra began with American conductor Kevin Rhodes, with a full to capacity performance.

First, of course, it is a delight when the lovely and talented Masako Yanagita, Concertmaster, enters to finely tune the orchestra. Once completed, the program begins with a night of "The Elegant Cello." First up is Johannes Brahms' Tragic Overture, Op. 81, which Rhodes describes as, "…an absolutely perfect single movement symphony in traditional 19th century harmonic language," followed by Edward Elgar's Cello, Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, (four movements) featuring the illustrious talent of Matt Haimovitz, and finally, Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op.43.

For the sake of brevity let's fast forward to Elgar's Cello Concerto with Maestro Haimovitz (cellist). The performance would give any person chills on a Texas-high-humidity day. This was a "one heartbeat, playful, extremely talented, amazing camaraderie between Haimovitz, orchestra and Rhodes performance."

Not intending to be name-dropping, but Haimovitz has studied with many talented talents, including Yo-Yo Ma. (Oh, Mr. Ma, we miss you at Tanglewood!) One of the many talents so likeable about Haimovitz is that he has a Tibetan spaniel named Shoko. Okay, enough of the trivial.

Elgar wrote the Cello Concerto (in E minor) in 1919, and this was his last grand musical attempt because of his bewildered take on the WWI situation. Sometimes referred to as the "War Requiem," which is flawed, he considered it a loss of life. Elgar wanted the cello to dominate this number, but he flawlessly placed both orchesta and cellist center stage. Both played crucial rolls in revealing a cacophony of emotions -- no dissonance intended. Rhodes, Haimovitz, SSO performed splendidly.