Platt’s farewell concert with Boca Symphonia a worthy showcase

By Alan Becker

Sunday afternoon brought Alexander Platt’s final appearance as the Boca Raton Symphonia’s principal conductor. Next year Phillipe Entremont takes the helm of what has become one of South Florida’s premier orchestral ensembles. Platt can take great pride in his accomplishments with the orchestra since his appointment in 2007, and the good news is he will return to join the Boca Symphonia in the newly created post of principal guest gonductor.

Sunday’s well-attended concert at the Saint Andrews School introduced the audience to Samuel Barber’s ebullient Capricorn Concerto for flute, oboe, trumpet and strings. Capricorn, was the name of Barber’s home in Mt. Kisco, New York where he lived with his partner and fellow composer Gian Carlo Menotti for many years.

Written in 1944 when the composer was serving in the army, it’s  a neo-Classical piece in three pithy movements, and presents a golden opportunity for the three soloists to strut their stuff. This they did, in glorious spirit and sound, with Jeffrey Kaye’s deft trumpet playing, the sprightly flute of Jeanne Tarrant, and the supple oboe tones of Erica Yamada. Barber’s Adagio for Strings was added to the program in memory of the recent tragic events in Haiti.

Alessio Bax

Alessio Bax

Italian pianist Alessio Bax took first prize at the Leeds Competition and the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan, and his recordings have won high praise.

Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor is actually the composer’s first in order of composition but the second to be published. It’s a gem of sustained lyricism and delicate filigree passagework; the orchestra, however is given little to do of interest beyond accompaniment.

Bax gave a refined, gentle performance, carefully caressing the keyboard. His tonal spectrum was of enchanting beauty, especially in the Larghetto where time seemed to be suspended on soft string chords and shifting harmonies. The final Allegro vivace began almost imperceptibly, with its subsequent permutations unfolding with great charm, including the rhythm of the Polish mazurka. With the orchestra’s smaller string section, woodwind solos stood out with greater clarity than usual.

Platt concluded his program much as he had begun three years before, with the 22-year-old Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major.  Called the “Paris” Symphony, because of the composer’s six-month stay in 1778, it reveals none of the tragedy that befell the composer when his mother took ill and died during his stay. The music, as if divorced from the personal happenings in his life at the time, is full of the joy of creativity, and his discovery of the colors available to him in expanding his orchestral palette.  Unlike in Salzburg, clarinets were now available to him here, and this is his first symphony to make use of them.

The strings sounded transparent and crystal clear in Platt’s well-shaped performance. If an occasional lapse in unanimity of attack did show up, it was of minor import in view of an overall interpretation that served Mozart very well. Even the original extended Andante did not seem a note too long this day.

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Mon Feb 15, 2010
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