Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 21, 2010

Orchestral Fireworks!

Hartford Symphony Orchestra
The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
May 20, 2010
by Terry Larsen

The rich array of tone color, contributed by the diverse instrumentation of the generic symphonic ensemble, was on full display at the Belden Theater, to the delight of the receptive audience gathered there. An appreciation demonstrated by a well-earned standing ovation after the concert and a long, hearty round of applause for the musicians was led by Executive Director Kristen Philips. This concert was not merely flash and glitter; Maestro Edward Cumming designed a program of works chosen from the iconoclastic early 20th Century, with one exception that was emotionally and intellectually rewarding, as well as entertaining.

Music from Martinů's opera La Revue de Cuisine, jocular flapper era dances laced with American jazz and a dash of the ambience of a French sidewalk café, was charmingly rendered by a solo ensemble of violincello, violin, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet and piano. This provided a rainbow of timbres in playful discourse. This miniature palette of color became magnified and intensified by the full orchestra in Sonata Set, and the conductor's arrangement of excerpts of violin sonatas by Charles Ives featuring violinist Karina Canellakis. This massive structure bursting with sonic bombast, quotes from American hymnody, and Ive's idiomatic harmonic language was beautifully enhanced by the lithe, silver lining of Canellakis' solo violin. Canellakis, a beautiful and very accomplished young woman with a tremendous future as soloist and conductor, returned after intermission to dazzle the audience with Introduction and Rondo Cappriccioso, Op. 28 by the 19th Century master Saint-Saëns. Her technique was sure, her expression loving and palpable. Finally, Maestro Cumming and the orchestra showered the room with a kaleidoscope of color, line, and contrasting mood as they played Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, a composition which helped launch his international reputation, or as Stravinsky said, "The Firebird radically altered my life.

It was a privilege and honor to be in the room with this music and these musicians during this presentation, especially knowing that present hard times have made an event like this all the more dear. Bravi!