If anyone needed additional proof that version 2.0 of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra has arrived, one would need to look no further than Sunday afternoon’s concert at the Collins Center for the Arts. The energy and dynamism required to tackle an entire program of Beethoven was more than present — it filled the hall.
It has been said already, but it becomes more apparent with each passing concert — Maestro Lucas Richman has had an incredibly positive effect on the BSO. Where a few years ago a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony might have had some muddy spots and less-than-ideal dynamics, the BSO’s performance of it Sunday was nothing short of thrilling. The Fifth is one of the most well-known compositions of all time, and it’s a tough beast to tackle — anyone with even a passing knowledge of classical music knows it, so it’s up to the orchestra to show an audience it’s got what it takes to pull it off.
Richman coaxed both fiery passion (the first movement) and luxurious warmth (the second movement) from the orchestra, relying much more on the quickness and lightness of strings and woodwinds than on weighty Sturm und Drang. The exhilarating finale brought the audience to its feet. The Fifth is a treat that is brought out sparingly — the last time the BSO performed it was in 2001 — and those in attendance Sunday knew they were hearing something special.
Soloist Benjamin Hochman performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 during the first half of the concert. The first movement of the piece gives a few moments to the orchestra before introducing the piano — Hochman entered with a completely solo passage, a delicate and free-flowing exposition of the themes of the orchestra introduction. When the orchestra re-entered, Hochman and the symphony engage each other in a dynamic duel, which occurs again later in the second movement, on a different theme. Hochman and the BSO seemed to work well together, with a lively conversation occurring at different points throughout the concerto. Hochman is a thoughtful, fluid, very clean pianist, and his seemingly effortless reading of the Concerto No. 3 made for an incredibly satisfying concert, overall. It was wonderful to hear such precise yet graceful interpretations of Beethoven.
Correction: An early version of this story contained a misspelling. The soloist's last name is Benjamin Hochman.