The Bangor Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 123rd season Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts with a spectacular concert that will be difficult to top.
What made it particularly memorable wasn’t even on the program. After performing Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major with fierce precision and abundant joy, soloist Alon Goldstein played as an encore a selection from Leonard Bernstein’s second symphony that concertgoers won’t soon forget.
The piece, taken from Bernstein’s “The Age of Anxiety,” stood out from the rest of Sunday’s selections like an emerald in a bowl of diamonds. It was a dazzling gift that pinned audience members to their seats as Goldstein’s fingers flew across the keys.
It was fitting that the pianist choose a Bernstein composition since the BSO is marking the centennial of the American composer’s birth by including his works in two other concerts.
The program Sunday began with the short Simple Song section from Bernstein’s Mass. Mezzo-Soprano Joelle Morris sang “Sing God a simple song, Lauda, laude,” with a sweet reverence.
Conductor Lucas Richman and Goldstein partnered perfectly to bring Ravel’s intense concerto alive. The soloist emphasized the jazz sections in the piece that were influenced by the work of George Gershwin. The orchestra’s brass section has rarely sounded better. It was true collaboration of conductor, soloist and players.
The concert closed with Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, which sounds like a journey through grief. Sibelius wrote it in 1901 while mourning the loss of his youngest daughter Kristi from typhus.
Richman coaxed and cajoled deep emotions from the players that emphasized the complexity of the composer’s work. Sibelius’ symphony is a dense piece full of nuance with unusual and unconventional phrasing. The orchestra lovingly and artfully emphasized the depth of the work, both musically and emotionally.
While every aspect of the concert was wonderful, nothing matched Goldstein’s encore. It was a study in perfection.
If the concert had been an athletic event, the audience would have left chanting: “More Goldstein. More Goldstein playing Bernstein! More, more, more.”
The Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s next concert will feature Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s 4th Symphony. It will be performed at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Collins Center for the Arts. For more information, call 207-581-1755 or visit bangorsymphony.org.
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