Boca Symphonia closes season on a mixed note

By Alan Becker

Conductor Scot Yoo led the Boca Symphonias final concert of the season Sunday afternoon.

Conductor Scot Yoo led the Boca Symphonia's final concert of the season Sunday afternoon.

The Boca Raton Symphonia ended its season Sunday with the appearance of Scott Yoo as guest conductor. Yoo is music director of the Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, California, and is resident conductor for the Colorado College Summer Music Festival. Aided by the excellent acoustics of the Roberts Theater at Saint Andrews School, the orchestra sounded well, with creamy smooth textures and well judged balances, although a few lapses did occur to mar the landscape.

Copland’s Music for the Theatre dates from 1925, when the composer began introducing jazz elements into his music. The five-movement suite has no actual theatrical connection, but is meant to be suggestive of pit orchestra music of the time. It must have sounded mildly shocking to the staid Boston audience at its first performance under Sergei Koussevitzky. No less a musical figure than Copland’s friend Roy Harris proclaimed, “But that’s whorehouse music!” when Copland played it for him on the piano.

The suite is great fun, and gives ample opportunity for solo instruments to strut their stuff. Catchy clarinet, oboe, english horn and trumpet parts abound, and all were played in the spirit of this smiling music. The slower string episodes could have easily fit into the composer’s score for Our Town.

Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra is his most celebrated work. Composed in 1939, the lovely Adagio has served as the inspiration for many takeoffs, and has even been borrowed by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in his album Sketches of Spain.

Discreetly miked, American guitarist Jason Vieaux projected the sassy flamenco-style strumming and shifts of meter with controlled abandon, while Yoo had the orchestra mostly under his control, save an occasional ensemble lapse in rapid passages, as with the rough horn playing in the opening Allegro con spirito.

Substituting for the originally scheduled Midsummer Night’s Dream incidental music of Mendelssohn was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Eroica. Using the small forces of the Symphonia, Yoo was able to bring forth a performance of considerable brio with brass and woodwinds easily cutting through the textures, though the horn playing once again was often dicey. With tempos in the first and third movements pushed to the extreme, things were exciting enough, although greater nuance would have been welcomed as a relief from the driven tempos.

The profound Marcia funebre was concentrated in expression and avoided the inertia that plagues many performances, while the finale was distinguished by the imaginative unfolding of each variation of the Creatures of Prometheus theme. Given the nature of the performance, it was curious that harder timpani sticks were not chosen to provide for added clarity and strength.

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Mon Mar 22, 2010
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