BSO concert with brass and wind instruments was glorious

Three years ago, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra expanded its season from five Masterpiece Concerts to six in order to showcase the chamber orchestra’s repertoire and showcase the members of the symphony orchestra as than soloists.

Previous January concerts have focused on the string section. The decision to emphasize the brass and woodwind sections during Sunday’s performance filled the concert hall at the Collins Center for the Arts with a cacophony of sound rarely experienced. It was glorious, especially for viewers who appreciate the loud, bright sound of the brass rather than the soothing, serene comfort often provided by the string section.

The pieces were written between 1612 and 1931 by five different European composers. The flute (Jonathan Laperle), oboe (Benjamin Fox), clarinet (Thomas Parchman), bassoon (Wren Saunders) and French horn (Scott Burditt) occupied pride of place. The musicians, who have played from the back rows of the orchestra for years, played every note to perfection.

Credit: Courtesy of Nate Lévesque

The concert began with a fanfare of “La Péri” by Paul Dukas, a short but delightful overture to Dukas’ one-act ballet. It grabbed the audience’s attention and foreshadowed the longer, more complex pieces of the program.

Francis Poulenc’s “Sextet for Piano and Wind Quintet” featured Maestro Lucas Richman on piano. This season is Richman’s 10th as Music Director and Bandleader with the BSO. In his honor, several pieces “dear” to his heart are performed, including the sextet.

Richman first performed the piece at age 14 at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Credit: Courtesy of Nate Lévesque

Poulenc’s work is reminiscent of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris”, premiered in 1924 and 1928 respectively. program. Gershwin’s scores feature some of the same frenzy.

The first half of the concert ended with Igor Stravinsky’s “Wind Symphonies”. A short piece dedicated to the memory of Claude Debussy, created in London in 1921, may have been based on the Russian Orthodox service for the dead, according to program notes. It is an unusual piece that is quite different from the composer’s well-known ballets, but Richman and the musicians managed to emphasize its subtlety and originality.

Giovanni Gabrieli was organist and composer with his uncle, Andrea Gabrielli, in 1612 at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The church has opposite or divided attics. Young Gabrieli’s “Canzone for Brass Choir” features a much later musical call and response associated with American gospel music. The clarity with which the musicians played lifted spirits on Sunday afternoon, as if the spectators were in a church rather than a concert hall.

The program concluded with Antonin Dvorak’s “Serenade for Wind Instruments”. The ensemble was joined by Noreen Silver on cello and Edward Allman on bass. First performed in 1878, it could be seen as a tribute to Amadeus Mozart’s serenades, but it is “imbued with the spirit of Czech folk music”, according to the program notes.

The musicians serenaded and surrounded the audience with a meticulous and loving rendition of the piece. The players managed to meet the technical challenge with precision and aplomb. Sunday’s concert proved that adding a sixth concert featuring the talented and loyal musicians of the orchestra was a brilliant idea worth pursuing.

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s next concert will be “The Sounds of the Sea,” featuring new work by Lucas Richman, at 3 p.m. on March 22 at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.

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