Amateurish chamber orchestra proves a musical train wreck at Broward Center
Symphony of the Americas’ Summerfest series normally provides a welcome opportunity to hear live classical music at an otherwise barren time of the year.
But this season, judging from Friday’s concert at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale — which will be repeated through August at various South Florida venues — you’re better off staying home and popping in a CD.
For its Summerfest series, Symphony of the Americas brings in a European chamber orchestra, which is joined in concerts by a few Symphony of the Americas members. This time the guest ensemble was the Mission Chamber Orchestra of Rome, a little-known ensemble that performed at a level well below that of both Symphony of the Americas and the guest orchestras that have performed in previous Summerfest series.
Intonation in the violins was atrocious, giving the orchestra the sound of a student ensemble. In the first work on the program, C.P.E. Bach’s Sinfonia No. 2, the rapid, overlapping passage work in the strings was a mess throughout, with sloppy execution and terrible intonation, in cascades of notes that need to be played with incisive precision to bring them off. Symphony of the America’s artistic director James Brooks-Bruzzese provided his usual energetic direction, but there’s only so much a conductor can do in such a situation.
Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 5 fared better, presumably because it’s slower and less complex, with fewer exposed passages and technical demands on the musicians. Concertmaster Orlando Forte gave a sizzling account of the solo first violin part, providing one of the few bright spots of the evening.
Symphony of the America’s principal flute, Marilyn Maingart, performed a real oddity, her own arrangement for flute of Saint-Saëns’ violin showpiece, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. But it turns out that what’s difficult on the violin is often impossible, and occasionally ridiculous, on the flute. The notes came fast, as she transformed the violin’s three-note chords into arpeggios and did her best with all the high-speed episodes that dominate the work. But the only passages that really worked were the slow, lyric ones, such as the introduction and some of the melodic passages that came later, in which the glowing tones of the flute blended well with the orchestra. Otherwise, much of the performance was an indistinct blur of notes, not enhanced by the performer’s tendency to engage in harsh blasts of sound when she got into the upper register.
The most successful work on the program was the world premiere of Tarantango for piano and string orchestra, composed and performed on the piano by Lorenzo Turchi-Floris, the Mission Chamber Orchestra of Rome’s music director. Much of it sounded like tarantella and tango music as reimagined by Rachmaninoff in one of his manic moods, with finely built tension and complexity in the tango section. Turchi-Floris gave a sharply marked and energetic performance on the piano, over another deplorable outing in the orchestra, which struggled with the triplets of the tarantella.
The other works on the program came off much like the Bach, including selections from Parry’s English Suite for string orchestra and Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 10 in B Minor. Borodin’s famous Nocturne from the String Quartet No. 2, one of those melodies that everyone knows whether or not they think they know any classical music, came in for particularly rough treatment, with the violins struggling to play the melody way up on their highest string. Only the cellos acquitted themselves well, playing with precision and style when the melody came their way.
Symphony of the Americas’ Summerfest series will repeat the program through Aug. 8 in Pompano Beach, Miami Lakes, Delray Beach, Hollywood and Vero Beach. symphonyoftheamericas.org, 954-335-7002.
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Sat Jul 28, 2012
at 12:28 pm