Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 14, 2018

SSO: Vivaldi Four Seasons

Springfield Symphony, Springfield, MA
February 10, 2018
by Shera Cohen

Many years ago, when eager to find a dance critic for Bravo Newspaper, two prominent dancers told me, “Just write the review yourself.” I didn’t feel comfortable doing what they suggested, considering that my knowledge of dance is somewhat limited to only what I like. “That’s exactly what we are saying,” repeated the dancers. “Say what you like, and you have a review.”

Classical music, for me, falls in the similar category of not knowing the subject matter very well. Admittedly, my understanding of music far exceeds that of dance. Yet, I can’t quite define words like fortissimo, and others with Latin roots. That said, this “review” is one for people who like, even love, music but are by no means an expert. I am guessing that this is a large group who made up the near-full house at Symphony Hall last evening.

Caroline Goulding
My guess that the primary reason for the near-full house at Symphony Hall was the performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Many of us have heard segments of this popular classical music. However, the SSO and solo violinist Caroline Goulding had their work cut out for them, playing all four movements in full. Goulding stood for the program, instrument in hand, looking at her sheet music on the stand in front of her, literally putting her entire body into the concert. This petite young woman brought each season to her audience with unexpected power.

As much as Vivaldi was the “draw,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Op. 92 was so mesmerizing that, frankly, I forgot to take my usual review notes. Occasionally closing my eyes brought the piece even closer to my soul. I was unfamiliar with this particular Beethoven work. Yes, I liked it. I loved it.

Some other notes on my symphony experience…

Venue – Symphony Hall is the acoustically and aesthetically premiere venue in the Pioneer Valley. If you’ve never visited, take a short walk-about at an SSO concert, especially to the second floor Mahogany Room.

Text Messages – A new element for some audience members to enhance their symphony experience are tidbits of information displayed on Iphones simultaneous with the notes performed on the stage. Not being technologically savvy, I did not participate, but many did.

Program Book – It’s chockfull of information on the selections, soloists, conductor, and composers. No worries, a “Jeopardy” quiz will not follow. However, given some insight adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the classical music.

Apparel – Remember the years when it was mandatory to wear your best duds to the symphony and similar cultural happenings? While I think it’s lovely to dress up to add a bit of elegance to your evening, the dress code has changed.  I don’t recommend cut-off holes in the knees jeans, but just about anything comfortable goes.

Advice to the novice classical music listeners – several SSO concerts remain in its 2017/18 season. Check their website, then check them out.