Symphony concert review

By Abby Taylor/ Eagle Post staff

    Energy was buzzing through Overture Hall as soon as the orchestra started tuning on November 12 for the Symphony’s concert featuring Alisa Weilerstein, the stunningly talented cellist.

    From start to finish, the concert was playful and exciting, full of very unique music (said in the most admirable way possible). Maestro John DeMain started the program off with “The Great Gatsby Suite” composed by John Harbison. The audience was presented with a treat when Harbison himself introduced his piece. The suite opened with a big band jazz sound that echoed through Overture. The melodies quickly took the audience back to the 1920’s, oozing with excitement and energy. Sections were separated by a small stage band, which added a light hearted feel to the whole piece, even as the dramatic flow of the music became more and more sorrowful as Gatsby’s mental state began deteriorating. Harbison said his piece, though from an opera, should be able to stand on its own, and that it did. I heard the whole story and the dramatic flow the whole time, and was intrigued the whole way through.

    “Gatsby” was followed by yet another story themed piece, “Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28” by Richard Strauss, which was inspired by the German folk hero Till Eulenspiegel, a prankster similar to Shakespeare’s Puck. The playful melodies and rhythms jumped effortlessly throughout the orchestra, from instrument to instrument, really bringing the playful mood across to the audience. This piece also had a dramatic flow to it. The story ended with Till’s execution, shown through trumpets blaring and drums beating. The most exciting parts of this piece however, were the drastic changes that caught the listener by surprise. Still and calm melodies would suddenly change to loud and almost chaotic sounds, making me, as well as many others, jump out of our seats.

    The real star of the performance though was the guest artist. Weilerstein moved the audience beyond words while playing “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 104” composed by Antonin Dvorak. Just watching her play brought the music to life, because she exuded an utmost grace and passion for the piece and every note she played. The second movement especially, probably my favorite of the concert, show cased Weilerstein’s talent with every gorgeous note. In this movement, she dipped down into the lower, richer register of the cello with the most elegant ease, and quickly juxtaposed that with the highest notes that could be played on the cello. It was mesmerizing.
The concert concluded with Weilerstein playing a Bach piece, unaccompanied by the orchestra. The encore’s cheerful melodies and dance-like feel left me speechless with a smile across my face. The Symphony clearly went all out with their program tonight, expanding to unique and playful pieces that left me feeling light hearted and begging for more.


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November 2010
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