Andai shows impressive podium skill in varied Miami Symphony program
“An Appalachian Spring” was the appropriately celebratory theme of the Miami Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Saturday night at Florida International University’s Wertheim Auditorium.
While the suite from Aaron Copland’s 1944 ballet has become a staple of the American symphonic repertoire, guest conductor Daniel Andai chose Copland’s original thirteen-piece chamber version of Appalachian Spring rather than the later arrangement for full orchestra. Shorn of thick instrumental textures, this thrice-familiar work proved revelatory, the highlight of an excellent program that also traversed late Richard Strauss and a Mozart masterwork.
Andai led a seamless performance with vigorous, clean string articulation, the score’s changes of mood and meter flowing organically. Copland’s mastery as an orchestrator is even more potent in this slimmed-down version, and the crisp rhythms and nostalgic lyricism were put across with balletic energy. The tinkling rhythmic underpinning of the piano was a delight, particularly in the variations on the Shaker melody Simple Gifts, which Andai took at a taut, unsentimental clip. In the coda, the exquisite combination of flute and clarinet over soft, high strings proved magical, and the excellent playing did full justice to this piece of classic Americana.
Daniel Andai is usually the orchestra’s concertmaster but, for this concert, that position was occupied by his brother David. On the podium, Andai’s clear, no-nonsense beat and attention to textural details elicited finely blended playing from the entire orchestra. Long a fine orchestral player, Andai clearly has strong interpretive instincts and knows how to command total concentration from his players.
Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (Haffner) received an exhilarating ride. Andai brought special clarity to the inner wind lines in a lithe reading of the opening Allegro and drew silken tonal sheen from the strings in a relaxed Andante. A sharply accented Menuetto featured idiomatically Viennese hesitations in the trio section. The final Presto was light and brisk on its feet, Andai bringing dynamic variety to the repetitive string figurations and giving emphatic heft to the timpani rolls at the climaxes.
Richard Strauss’ brief Duo Concertino for clarinet and bassoon was the centerpiece on this chamber orchestra program. This late score (1947) is a comparatively minor piece, much of the autumnal lyricism and elegance tinged with the sadness of the composer’s contemporaneous Oboe Concerto.
Nuno Antunes’ sweet, resonant clarinet soared in long arcs of melody and exhibited bright agility in the dance like Rondo finale. Adrian Morejon’s warm, plangent bassoon sonority was particularly impressive in the long spun arioso of the central Andante. The two instrumentalists’ combined timbres were beguiling in duet passages. Andai provided attentive support, with Kristi Shade’s lustrous harp coloring the string textures.
Musical extras were offered with Antunes, Morejon and Shade joining forces for a colorful Latin danzon, along eith sonorous interludes during intermission by organists Matthew Steynor and Gregory Castilla Zelek at the FIU pipe organ.
The program will be repeated 4 p.m. Sunday at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center. 305-275-5666. themiso.org.
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Sun Apr 7, 2013
at 12:46 pm