BSO brightens the day with Beethoven, Mendelssohn

Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 11:59 a.m.

It’s not always the case that there are two clear highlights of a particular Bangor Symphony Orchestra concert, but attendees at Sunday afternoon’s performance were in luck, thanks to a riveting showing from piano soloist Alon Goldstein and a nuanced interpretation of a Beethoven masterwork by conductor Lucas Richman.

Goldstein performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, a dreamy, imaginative, romantic work last performed by the Bangor Symphony eight years ago. Goldstein is as fierce a player as he is delicate, as the lively first movement gave way to a lyrical andante second movement, imbued with much quiet passion. But it was somewhere in between the andante and the fiery third movement that Goldstein made new fans out of most of the audience; his virtuosity in full effect, coupled with his ability to communicate emotion to listeners, brought concertgoers to their feet at its conclusion.

Goldstein obliged them by performing Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Danzas Argentinas,” a wildly different composition from the Mendelssohn; all dissonant chords and fluctuating rhythms, veering from an industrial tango to crashing walls of sound. It was an exhilarating surprise, a blast of contemporary passion amid a program of romantic and classical favorites.

The second half of the program was devoted entirely to Beethoven’s Third Symphony, known popularly as the “Eroica.” The stirring, powerful Third is a kind of fan favorite of the composer’s, full of excitement and sweeping themes. Special credit must be given to the symphony’s woodwind and brass sections — in particular the oboes and French horns — for their deft, fluid performance. In another conductor’s hands, the timing might have been off, or the complex, bold final movement might have lacked some finesse, but Richman has a way of getting the BSO to be at their best. On the first day of Daylight Standard Time, as darkness arrived earlier than usual, Richman and the BSO brought a little extra light into the day.

The BSO will next perform with the Robinson Ballet for the annual “Nutcracker” performances on Dec. 15 and 16; the next Masterworks concert is set for Jan 27, featuring a program of Bach, Mozart and Mahler.

The BDN is one of the sponsors of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.

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