Miami Symphony offers an early valentine with heartfelt performances

By Lawrence Budmen

Eduardo Marturet conducted the Miami Symphony Orchestra Saturday night at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

A large and very enthusiastic audience turned out for the Miami Symphony Orchestra’s “Valentine Preview” concert Saturday night at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium. Instead of programming candied romantic confections, music director Eduardo Marturet conceived a sophisticated mix of familiar and rarely heard scores, encompassing both seasoned tradition and path-breaking modernity. The program found conductor and orchestra in great form, in one of the ensemble’s most compelling performances of recent years.

Leos Janacek’s Jealousy was originally intended as an overture to the opera Jenufa, one of the composer’s greatest stage masterpieces. The score opens and closes with brassy flourishes similar to the initial fanfares of the composer’s Sinfonietta. Between the exciting tumult, a lush, romantic mini-tone poem evolves in soaring string and wind figurations. Marturet’s fervor and enthusiasm for the score elicited full-bodied, vociferous playing from all sections of the orchestra. Props to Marturet for reviving this forgotten vignette.

Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, Op. 1, is a historic score, the synthesis of intense emotion and atonality. A disciple of Schoenberg with a distinctively original voice, Webern conceived a score replete with arcs of instrumental colors, both in orchestral outbursts and darkly subtle instrumental solos. Marturet’s lucid detailing of the orchestral fabric highlighted the work’s intimate, jewel-like prisms of sound. Concertmaster Daniel Andai’s darkly emotive solo captured the score’s enigmatic passion and the supple harp line spun radiantly over the ensemble.

Marturet’s taut, impassioned reading of the “Prelude and Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde marvelously conveyed the heated romanticism and tonal ambiguity of this emotion-drenched score. Lustrous playing from the cellos and lower strings took special honors, the brass and winds strong and clear. Marturet’s tightly controlled direction and astutely judged dynamics propelled the Liebestod to a soft, intensely felt conclusion and emotional catharsis.

A bold, technicolor reading of Elgar’s Enigma Variations was the sonorous finale, the pealing tones of the Wertheim’s pipe organ vibrantly blending with full-throttle ensemble playing in the climactic pages. Marturet’s sturdy traversal encompassed the score’s mood swings from somber to light and playful. From the broadly phrased initial statement of the main theme, he captured the sweep and contrast of Elgar’s orchestral canvass. The lyrical solemnity of “Nimrod” and clearly projected fugal textures of the second variation were beautifully painted. In an exceptional ensemble effort, the rich and dynamic string playing and plaintive clarinet solo were standouts, in one of the orchestra’s finest performances.

As an encore, concertmaster Andai took solo honors in an idiomatic, agile and lovely performance of a tango by Argentine master Carlos Gardel in a brilliantly colorful arrangement by John Williams, a shining valentine indeed.

The Miami Symphony Orchestra repeats the program 4 p.m. Sunday at South Dade Cultural Arts Center. 305-275-5666;

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Miami Symphony offers an early valentine with heartfelt performances”

  1. Posted Feb 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm by Fred Jonas

    Props to Lawrence Budmen for a wonderful review. The concert was at least as good as he described. He did, however, overlook the two bonus organ works the remaining audience tried to talk over during intermission. The fact is, Marturet always “conceive[s] a sophisticated mix of familiar and rarely heard scores.” It is his singular talent to choose them, combine them for one intriguing and exciting concert after another, and conduct them with obvious enthusiasm and love. And it is the talent of his orchestra to execute these pieces as they do for him. Great fun and joy are had on that stage. The chemistry is explosive. The couple sitting next to me have been attending these series for 20 years, and they attest to the dramatic elevation of this remarkable organization under Marturet. I myself am hopelessly hooked.

Leave a Comment

Sun Feb 10, 2013
at 12:32 pm
1 Comment