A down-sized Miami Symphony offers high energy in “Divertimento” program

By Dorothy Hindman

Joshua Dos Santos conducted the Miami Symphony Orchestra Saturday night at FIU. Photos by Craig T. Mathew

Energy and confidence marked the Miami Symphony Orchestra’s “Divertimento” program, led by rising Venezuelan conductor Joshua Dos Santos Saturday night at Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Just 27, Dos Santos has already worked with Venezuela’s major orchestra and held a “Dudamel Fellowship” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra last season.

Dos Santos’s commitment to promote Latin American music showed in Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas’ Ocho por Radio, a thoroughly entertaining work blending mariachi melodies with neoclassical rhythms. Clearly carved, bright colors dominated, with plaintive solos in the central section from trumpet, clarinet and bassoon. The musicians clearly relished the Latin rhythms, especially the violinist Andai brothers.

In Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, op. 9, Dos Santos proved his mettle in more challenging music. From the grand opening sound, the Schoenberg proved the finest performance of the evening, eddying and swirling with constant yearning. Scored for ten winds and five strings, the sound produced by the group was of a much larger orchestra, far surpassing the sum of the parts. Particularly evocative were the winds, with superb passagework, perfectly attuned to add shimmer to the lines. The delicate harmonics passed from Alexander Berti’s bass and Konstantin Litvinenko’s cello to David Riker’s agitated viola solos and huge ensemble tuttis. Dos Santos transparently illuminated the thick writing, and the resulting bravura performance would make any national orchestra proud.

The adventurous first half was balanced after the intermission by two Italianate Classical works. The Divertimento in D, K.136, written when Mozart was just sixteen, featured a classically proportioned string orchestra of fifteen musicians. With nine violins, the brightness of tone contributed to a refined, understated interpretation. Where Dos Santos had meticulously led the musicians in the Schoenberg, in the Mozart he left counting to the performers, providing cueing and interpretive gestures instead. In the Presto, the musicians occasionally had no direction at all, although the chamber-sized forces easily navigated the familiar music, offering a musically sensitive rendition.

Patrice Jackson

Cellist Patrice Jackson joined the orchestra for Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major. Resplendent in red, Jackson’s regal bearing was lovely to watch. Contrasting the Mozart, Dos Santos coaxed a bold, rich sound from the start, and made plenty of room for Jackson’s commanding entrances. Jackson’s careful phrasing and varied articulation imbued each line with a voice-like quality, although difficulty with intonation in the upper registers plagued her in the opening of the Moderato. By the cadenza, she had settled into a beautiful tone.

Her upper register in the Adagio had the same expressive warmth as the lower registers, and in the concluding Allegro Molto, she played with flash, fiery determination and a bit of playfulness for good measure. Dos Santos’ fist-shaking, gestural conducting added excitement, and the orchestra responded with unobtrusive support for Jackson.

The Miami Symphony Orchestra will repeat the program 4 p.m. Sunday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. themiso.org

Posted in Performances

One Response to “A down-sized Miami Symphony offers high energy in “Divertimento” program”

  1. Posted Nov 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm by Fred Jonas

    The two most remarkable things about this concert were the range of pieces presented (way out of the ordinary repertoire, and refreshing), and the caliber of the orchestra. They are very simply first rate, with a distinct charm in the chamber genre. The guest soloist was tremendously engaging, though I agree with the reviewer that there were some “intonation” issues throughout. Given her resume, as summarized in the playbill, I’d like to hear her again on a better night.

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Sun Nov 11, 2012
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