Review by Terry Gaisin
After 56 years, writing about classical music, the genre intrinsically belongs as the domain of O.A.R.’s Danny Gaisin. However, a definitive & very positive bias towards the Hamilton Philharmonic’s program of Spanish music would certainly affect objectivity. Thus, yours truly gets the by-line!
From the opening collage of “Carmen” excerpts; Bizet’s most famous opera and one of D.G.’s favorites, maestra New presented the prelude with its adverse theme; truly demonstrating that the orchestra is now hers…and vice-versa. The familiar ‘Habanera’ with its advice about daring to love a vamp, and the passionate ‘Seguidilla’, the amazing mezzo voice of Lauren Segal even extended her range to the contralto realm.
The orchestra’s reading of the’ Toreador’ theme incorporated an ingenious bravado that viscerally emphasized the charisma a jock such as ‘Escamillo’ must possess.
A 600-year-old Spanish opera form is called ‘zazuela’ [pronounced “tharth whale ah], that has evolved into a non-operatic performance format. Recently its popularity resumed by the innovative interpretations by Pepe Romero, especially the recording under Rota’s baton. The H.P.O. presented the acoustic guitar expertise of Jeffrey McFadden to perform Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Arajuez’; the same composition that Romero made so prevalent. McFadden & New impacted even more sensuality into the opening Allegro than the Rota/Romero version (which has 2 copies chez Gaisin). The familiar adagio with its renowned “du du DUM” opening 3 notes actually raised some neck hackles on this writer & her muse! The final allegro was offered with a novel deliberation that was both pleasant and innovative. The inter-movement applause was instinctive and quite acceptable.
Post-interval, the orchestra was again joined by McFadden and from stage center, Leslie Newman, principal flautist of the HPO., to perform contemporary composer Arturo Márquez’ Danzón no. 3 (of 5). These dances have recently been appropriated by the world of ballet; and the HPO enlisted the ‘Esmeralda Enrique Dance Company’ to visually interpret the work. Enrique; her student Paloma Cortés plus McFadden & Newman made this aspect of the evening truly memorable. Both terpsichores seem to eschew the José Greco style wherein the performer expresses anger at his or her feet; or else seems determined to stamp out a cucaracha!
The following major work: – De Falla’s ‘El Amor Brujo’ is a 12-part collage of arias from the opera. The orchestra and especially Ms. Segal were almost viscerally able to bring images of Candela; her Carmelo & even their alter-ish caldron to life. The Seventh section -the Ritual Fire Dance had most of the audience seated nearby humming the theme, quite in tempo with both the soloist and the podium.
There were numerous occasions where the audience was so spellbound that in moments of musical pause; I’d swear a dropping pin would echo! This was certainly another triumph for Gemma New and as mentioned above – her orchestra! BRAVA.