Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 19, 2009

Springfield Symphony & Corey Cerovsek

Mozart, Vivaldi, Mendelssohn
Symphony Hall, Springfield MA
March 14, 2009

By Donna Bailey-Thompson

Just like families, not all symphony programs are harmonious. The SSO's "Symphonic Seasons" program featuring the distinct sounds of Mozart, Vivaldi, and Mendelssohn, demonstrated that when the musical chemistry is in tune, the audience's pleasure is sensed long before the applause begins.

The title of Mozart's "Adagio and Fugue in C minor" doubled as a roadmap: the orchestra – all strings only – began with alacrity, so merry and bright – and then eased into waves of soft phrasing that invited contemplation and perhaps even levitation beyond the confines of Symphony Hall. Maestro Kevin Rhodes and the dedicated musicians were in tuneful sync.

Much of the evening's pre-concert excitement centered on the return of violinist Corey Cerovsek performing – again – Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." Each of the seasons (Spring, E Major; Summer, G minor; Autumn, F Major; Winter, F minor) is a concerto, a complete experience, separated by brief pauses. Beyond Cerovsek’s exacting technique, what seemed to impress audiences in particular was his ability to memorize "all those notes." An intense standing ovation persuaded Cerovsek to play what he described as "short and sweet" – an arresting display of pell-mell dexterity that catapulted the audience to clamor for more until he raised his 1728 Stradivarius and announced the next piece was a "slow movement" – of what? Unintelligible words but no matter: his tour de force accomplishment was secure.

The communication between SSO's conductor and musicians was apparent during Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony No. 3, in A minor. Mendelssohn's emotional appreciation of his visit to Scotland was lovingly and meticulously performed. The movements were interconnected; their moods followed natural bridges to the next musical interpretation of sweeping moors, rugged crags, churning clouds, sudden sunshine, and tumultuous history. The SSO's professional growth was especially evident. Unlike major symphonies with a majority of full-time musicians and extended rehearsal opportunities, SSO's first rehearsal for a Saturday concert begins two days earlier, on a Thursday. Knowing their polishing time is precious, everyone arrives prepared. Rhodes' high standards inspire the musicians to exact more of themselves. The result is a win-win for the musicians and audiences. Now "celebrating 65 years of live music," the Springfield Symphony Orchestra is recognized as one of New England’s crown jewels.