Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 23, 2009

Barber & Tchaikovsky

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Springfield
by Debra Tinkham

Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and relax for a quick review of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's 66th season gala performance with Maestro Kevin Rhodes, now in his 9th season, and guest Janet Sung, performing Samuel Barber's violin Concerto Op 14, on a c. 1600 Maggini violin.

Sung's youthful appearance made it inconceivable that she could be so elegant, so emotional and so talented. The story behind this Concerto is that Barber was commissioned by a man to write a good piece of violin music for his adopted son. As the tale continued, Barber sent two of the three movements to the young violinist and they were considered "too simple." The third movement - to get even - was technically difficult. Sung performed this sweet but complicated masterpiece with ease and grace.

The Allegro (first movement) pushed Sung and her violin to the limit in high tones. The Andante (2nd movement) started with a long break for Sung, while absorbed in the tension between the oboe and strings. Finally, the Rondo - presto (very fast) was electrifying, with some very fancy finger work. Without a doubt, Sung deserved her standing ovation.

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 3, Op 29 in D Major offered five movements of motion, diversity, broken chords, small doses of melody, divvied up and bouncing around to various instruments. Tchaikovsky was often faulted for his predictability but Symphony No 3 is anything but predictable. Rather, it reflects the composer's world of darkness.

"Rhodes Reflections" stated "… four of Tchaikovsky's most major works rarely get played. Among those is tonight's Symphony Nr. 3, The Polish."

Again, the audience at Symphony Hall thanked Maestro Rhodes for his energy and optimism in putting it all together and bringing such talented musicians to Springfield.