Boca Symphonia opens with Mendelssohn and a violinist’s impressive debut

By Alan Becker

Alexander Platt

Imagine Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony shorn of its great choral finale and ending after the three orchestral movements. To an extent, that’s similar to what was presented by the Boca Raton Symphonia at its season-opening concert with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2.

With the choral Lobgesang, or Hymn of Praise sections excised from the symphony Sunday afternoon at the Roberts Theater, we are left with some 24 minutes of orchestral music closing with an inconclusive slow movement. Although most concertgoers would not know what went missing, the cantata part of the work would have been a costly endeavor for the orchestra (as well as once-in-a-lifetime experience for most audience members).

Be that as it may, what we did get was very well performed. Conductor Alexander Platt is too fine a musician to leave us with a bleeding torso, so following the Adagio religioso he segued directly into Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage overture as a substitute finale. It was a creative idea and gave the audience the opportunity to hear some infrequently performed music from the composer’s pen. More important, Platt pushed the music forward with a thrust of excitement and the orchestra, with added trombones, played their hearts out.

Irving Fine (1914-1962) rarely figures on programs these days. His life was short, and his output small, but his Notturno for Strings and Harp is well worth the encounter. Its three movements have a gentle lyricism tinged with the sinew of twentieth-century Neo-classicism. Stravinsky’s Orpheus came to mind, along with some of the music by Fine’s colleagues of the so-called Boston School. This is certainly no display piece for harp, as the writing is generally chaste and, like the strings, avoids all virtuosic gestures. It has proved to be the composer’s most popular piece and was performed with sympathy, with the strings providing a luminous sheen to their sound.

Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 is in the repertory of all major violinists. It’s a beautiful piece, rich with melody and dramatic tension. The young Hungarian-American violinist Erno Kallai is completing his studies at Juilliard with Itzhak Perlman, who recommended him for this Boca debut,

Erno Kallei

Playing an 1864 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin, his gorgeous tone reminded me of the young Perlman, his technique was flawless, and his manner fully assured and professional. The melting Adagio was as heartbreakingly lovely as any heard in years of concert-going, and the finale came up as fresh as if heard for the first time. Platt led his orchestra with enthusiasm and great care so as to meld perfectly in interpretive unity. This will be the music director’s final season with the orchestra and he will be greatly missed.

Posted in Performances

3 Responses to “Boca Symphonia opens with Mendelssohn and a violinist’s impressive debut”

  1. Posted Nov 15, 2009 at 10:05 am by John Sowell

    I’m surprised there was no mention of an insert in the program: “Join your Boca Raton Symphonia as we extend a ‘world class’ welcome to Phillpe Etremont (sic) our new internationally renowned Principal Conductor”

    Any light to shed on that?

  2. Posted Nov 17, 2009 at 9:27 pm by michael a. taddonio

    It wouldn’t surprise me if James Judd takes over as musical director of the Boca Raton Symphonia. Now that he’s back in South Florida, he would be itching to back in the South Arts scene full scens. He must realize that it takes money and proper management, as well being artistic, for a cultural organization to be successful to last.

  3. Posted Nov 18, 2009 at 11:16 am by John Sowell

    If the Symphonia is about to announce Phillipe Entremont I doubt James Judd would get the position.

    Only one caveat: the Master Chorale is presenting Messiah the weekend before Christmas, with the Boca Raton Symphonia. Guess who’s the conductor (hint, initials are JJ – can’t wait to hear of chemistry with BRS musicians who were in POOF when musician unrest contributed to Judd’s departure).

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Mon Nov 9, 2009
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