Lucas Richman, conductor and music director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, couldn’t have known months ago where his audience would be on the pandemic timeline when he scheduled the May concert.
The concert, recorded May 2 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, is the fourth Masterworks program of the orchestra’s 125th season. It includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.
Mozart’s effervescent piece personifies the elation and relief we all are feeling as pandemic restrictions are being lifted and a return to normal feels within reach. Soloist Jennifer Frautschi, playing a stunningly fine 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin with impeccable tone, captures all the youthful wonder of Mozart, who was 17 when he wrote his first violin concerto.
Frautschi filled the empty concert hall with a clean, clear sound that captured all of Mozart’s playful and adventurous melodies with passion and precision.
Schubert composed his Symphony No. 5 in 1816 over four weeks when he was 19. It was full of optimism and good humor compared to his fourth symphony, considered to sound tragic, according to the program notes.
This piece, influenced by Mozart, Joseph Hadyn and Ludwig van Beethoven, displays “an elegance and harmonic complexity” that belonged only to Schubert, Richman said in his introductory remarks. The orchestra embraces the symphony like an old friend it has not hugged in a very long time.
Once again, Richman programmed a piece by a little known female composer — the overture to the Sinfonia in C Major — to open this concert. Marianna Martines was a prolific composer who led a colorful life, according to the program notes. She composed more than 200 works in every genre except opera and lived a colorful life in Vienna. She composed the Sinfonia in 1770 when she was 24 years old.
This piece was a lovely way to begin the concert. The format of the Sinfonia’s three movements played fast, slow and fast, respectively, and in an odd way reflected the pace of the pandemic year. There was the mad dash to close up and hunker down, followed by the slow crawl from observing safety measures to vaccines and the rush to reopen and return to normal.
The BSO’s decision to produce these shorter, filmed concerts has worked well musically even with the string musicians wearing masks and socially distanced. Seeing the brass and the windwood players nearly enclosed in plexiglass was a bit startling at first but the sounds of the sections blended together beautifully.
Somehow, when Richman and executive director Brian Hinrichs reworking the season because of the pandemic, they knew just what composers their audience would need when to provide comfort. Turns out Mozart and Schubert’s youthful joy and exuberance were just what we need right now.
For ticket information, contact the Bangor Symphony Orchestra at 942-5555 or visit bangorsymphony.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated when Franz Schubert composed his Symphony No. 5