Energy and Style
By Lawrence Budmen
A concert by the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia
Music and Vision Daily Writer
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
MIAMI — The final concert of the initial season of the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia (on 12 March 2006 at the Florida Atlantic University Theater in Boca Raton, Florida, USA) was a real charmer. The 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth was celebrated in grand style with a high spirited overture and the last of the master from Salzburg's 27 piano concertos. Two symphonies by 20th century composers provided a bracing contrast.
Ilya Itin was the superbly musical, technically agile soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No 27 in B flat, K595. While he is best known for his powerhouse Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff performances, Itin's exquisitely sculpted phrasing and pearly tone in the central Larghetto movement produced moments of near sublimity. Here was music making of the most grandly elevated variety. Conductor Mischa Santora (Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra) expertly pinpointed the noble dialogue between piano and woodwinds. Boca Symphonia's wind section played with precision, clarity, and subtle expressivity. The sweet toned flute of Christine Nield effortlessly blended with Itin's finely chiseled pianism. The opening Allegro was lithe and spirited. Itin's brilliant cadenza had commanding line and sweep. In the quirky Finale, Itin and Santora captured the wit and sparkle of Mozart's indelible creation with élan. Soloist and conductor seemed to be creating the music as they played -- a truly inspired performance!
Santora opened the concert with a vigorous, characterful traversal of the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. The Boca Symphony musicians played with lithe, precise ensemble. Oboist Erika Yamada's solo was elegantly stated. This was vigorous, no nonsense Mozart of the period instrument school.
Charles Ives's Symphony No 3 (The Camp Meeting) belongs to that revolutionary composer's Americana phase. Protestant hymn tunes (familiar to the composer from his childhood in Danbury, Connecticut) weave through the music's layered textures. Modal harmonies suddenly turn into bold dissonance. Santora led Kenneth Singleton's authoritative edition for the Ives Society which is surprisingly bracing and astringent. Earlier editions by Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison toned down the score's modernity in favor of folksy nationalism. It was a revelation to hear Ives's boldly original creation in its pristine form. (Among the leaders of the Ives Society's yeoman musicological work are conductors James Sinclair and Michael Tilson Thomas). Santora led an intense, driving performance with strong instrumental colors and differentiation. Concertmaster Huigang Chen, violist Michael Klotz, and cellist Susan Moyer shone brightly in solo turns. The symphony's finale (based on the hymn Just As I Am) is eloquent and moving. This performance was a landmark for the recently formed orchestra.
Copyright 2006, Lawrence Budmen
, Miami Beach, USA.