Platt makes charming debut with Bach
By Jack Zink
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
November 13, 2007
BOCA RATON — The Boca Raton Symphonia entered its third season with another important step in its development, the ascendance of Alexander Platt.
For his debut as the Boca Raton Symphonia's principal conductor and artistic adviser, Platt charmingly connected the dots in a themed tribute to J.S. Bach — without actually playing Bach. So to speak. Though two short Bach compositions were on Sunday's menu at the Roberts Theatre, both were later arrangements by admirers of the 18th century composer's work. Meanwhile, Platt noted, the ghost of Bach hovers over the program's main items by personal friends Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn.
Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor featured a generally sparkling guest performance by Lynn University's Roberta Rust, though the impressive clarity of her passagework grew mushy at times during the opening movement's cadenza.
Platt led the chamber orchestra through Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 in D, the Reformation, that found both quiet reflectiveness and Pentecostal exuberance, moving easily from the early movements' interpolations of the Lutheran Dresden Amen toward the large-scale choral fervor of the closing theme, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
The opening Suite for Small Orchestra, arranged by Mahler from Bach's 1067 and 1068 orchestral overtures, was a clever shakedown for the Symphonia's season debut. Trills fluttered lightly through the strings at the outset, giving way to a scampering flute both in the overture and through the Badinerie of the second section.
Platt carefully sculpted the soft elegance of the famous Air, but cohesion suffered at times in the lively closing Gavottes.
Following intermission, Platt served up what he called a "uniquely obscure" century-old arrangement, by German composer Max Reger, of Bach's setting of the Lutheran hymn O Mankind, Bewail Your Great Sins. The Symphonia's violas rose to shine in this short, reverent piece, hovering expressively over the deeper tones of cello and bass.
As for the important steps, the Symphonia is moving forward in a deliberate, careful manner. Taking up residence in the modestly sized Roberts Theatre a year ago was a smart move that matched good acoustics with the ensemble's audience base.
Music review: Platt makes charming debut with Bach (South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com Page 1 of 2) Platt's appointment brings focus and continuity to the artistic endeavor without — as the conductor put it — bringing in a dictator to superimpose a vision.
Platt is conducting two Symphonia programs this season; the next is Feb. 10. Company president Harry Shuford announced Sunday that intentions are for Platt to conduct all five of the Connoisseur Series programs at the Roberts.
© 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.