Review by Judith Caldwell
The second concert in this year’s Brott Music Festival, somewhat confusingly entitled ‘Viva L’Italia’ as there were only two Italian composers on the program and one of those is famous for his gypsy music. However, the other composers did stick to the Italian theme. Rossini’s Overture to An Italian in Algiers was the opener. Conducted by Apprentice Janna Sailor, she made this orchestra of young inexperienced players sound as though they had played together for years. It was a crisp, precise rendition that was full of drama and texture. *
This was simply the best performance of this work I think I have ever heard. One should remember Sailor’s name as I am sure she will have a stellar career.
The next two pieces required a solo violinist and the advertised soloist was still busy elsewhere so the concertmistress Nancy Dinovo stepped in at short notice. Both pieces, Sarasate’s ‘Zigeunerweisen’ and Monti’s ‘”Csardas”, were well known gypsy showpieces for virtuoso violin and Dinovo performed brilliantly while milking each piece for all the schmaltz possible. The audience loved it and gave Dinovo a well-deserved standing ovation and totally forgave the gypsies for wandering into an Italian night. The first half of the concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Capriccio Italien’, a piece he composed after a trip to Rome during Carnival. It included some Italian folk songs and even a bugle call he had heard while there. Boris Brott conducted the NAO with a sense of expansiveness and contrasting colours; moving from a lush waltz that invited dancing to more dramatic tones and on to just plain fun. The audience was totally engaged with this piece and loved it.
After intermission – Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4 – his Italian Symphony. Mendelssohn is a rarity among composers in that he never lacked for money or friends and he only knew heartbreak when his beloved sister died six months before him. Because of this some feel his music lacks the creativity that hardship seems to nurture, but there is nothing wrong with beautifully written happy music. The first movement is the most familiar and ushers us into the sunny, boisterous Mediterranean milieu, the second movement is more somber and austere, then it is back into the sun for the waltz-like third movement; and finally into the whirling Italian dances of the fiery finale. Altogether this was a very satisfying Symphony well-played by a young, talented, and eager orchestra under the masterful direction of Maestro Brott.
This whole concert was an improvement on last week. The audience was bigger; much more engaged with the music and the program appeared to be enjoyed more by the musicians themselves. The next concert is on July 2nd at Liuna Station.