Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 18, 2010

Beethoven & Mozart

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
March 13, 2010
by T.C. Larsen

From pregnant silence came the rumor of druids, a shimmering, misty pianissimo in the strings - a shadow of silence. The solo trumpet played the "Question" from exile in the Mahogany Room. The commentary of "the fighting answerers," a quartet of flutes stationed in the balcony, filtered to the audience - notes of sonic awe and mystery. This display of dynamic restraint and control in the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's rendition of Ives' The Unanswered Question was the harbinger of many beautiful moments presented throughout the evening.

Beethoven's demanding fourth piano concerto received similar attention to dynamic concerns and natural expression. The opening pianissimo played by was breathtaking. This graceful whisper led to an animated, elegant, and surprisingly humorous conversation between pianist and the orchestra. Maestro Rhodes fulfilled his role as moderator of this dialogue with ease, deftly melding the interactions and dynamic balances of pianist and orchestra with clarity and passion.

Large in scale and demanding in detail, the extant portions of Mozart's unfinished Mass in C minor provide a remarkably satisfying work. The Chorus, beautifully prepared by Director Nikki Stoia, rose to the occasion by singing with lovely timbre, vigorous enunciation, and an admirable clarity of articulation of line. Despite occasional intonation problems during iterations of motives traded between the two soprano sections, and some dynamic imbalances between the small tenor section in divisi and the aggregate size of the other sections, the overall contribution of the Chorus was delightful and highly praise worthy. All four soloists are to be complimented for artful singing, each one contributing to an evening already ravaged by rampant beauty. Mary Wilson deserves special praise, addressing the technical demands and considerable size of her role with graceful ease and beauty of vocal production. Moreover, she set the audience at ease with the demeanor of an experienced story teller fully at home within the narrative.