A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king. And even if spring might not technically arrive for another few weeks, it certainly felt springlike both inside and outside at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, during the Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Sunday.
There were many delights on the program, the fourth overall for the BSO’s 117th season, but certainly the centerpiece was the BSO’s lithe, stimulating performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” Soloist Lara St. John gave the impassioned, fiery performance the piece calls for; in her flame-colored dress, she was the perfect visual match to the auditory pyrotechnics. Alternating between big, bold, physical swipes of the bow and keening sensuality, St. John — an accomplished violinist with a musically diverse background — was undoubtedly one of the finest soloists to grace the BSO stage in recent years. Her well-deserved standing ovation resulted in a performance of a Bach partita for violin.
The BSO was in fine form for the entire concert. Maestro Lucas Richman clearly designed the programming as a showcase for the strings, out of which he coaxed evocative beauty from start to finish. Special attention must be paid to concertmaster Trond Saeverud and second violin principal Simon Bilyk, viola principal Laura Gallucci and cello principal Noreen Silver, all of whom led their respective sections with finesse, while each individually were allowed to shine.
Though the Vivaldi was a joy to hear, the opening performance of Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” very nearly stole the show. The aching melody woven in and out of the work brought dead silence to the auditorium, as Richman clearly relished conducting this piece in particular, something he himself admitted in his comments onstage, later. Among the things the maestro has brought to the BSO — and there are many — are texture and warmth.
The other work on the program was Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Airs & Dances Suite No. 1, a light, lively work based on Renaissance-era Italian songs written for lute. Combined with the Vivaldi and the Williams, it made for an enchanting afternoon — the best concert of the season, so far.