Sunday, October 08, 2006

SPCO play Schubert, Mozart & Mendelssohn

Last night, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra gave a splendid concert at the Ordway Theater. Nic McGegan was down to direct the performance, but unfortunately could not make it in from Europe due a flight cancellation. Scott Yoo flew in from New York to take over at very short notice, and did a fabulous job.

The evening began with Schubert's Rondo brillant in B minor, arranged for violin and strings by Dale Barltrop, who also played the lead. His performance was given a standing ovation, both for his playing and the beautiful arrangement. (Schubert originally wrote this piece for violin and piano.)

This was followed by Jonathan Biss playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C (K. 467). I have never heard a better rendering of this work, especially the famous Andante, nor have I ever seen anyone put more feeling into his music. After years of being somewhat indifferent to Mozart, I am finally becoming a true fan, thanks to having heard so many fine performances by the SPCO, often in relatively intimate settings.

The program ended with Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 in D (Op. 107) a.k.a. the "Reformation". This work is something of a showcase for the brass and winds, as well as featuring some very fine string parts. It's interesting to hear the influence of Bach in the later movements, sometimes so pronounced that one can even recognize small quotations, e.g., I thought I heard the Fugue from the First Violin Sonata at one point.

All in all, an awesome event that was followed by a great party, given for the musicians, board members and staff by the Securian Foundation, who also sponsored the evening's concert.

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