Entremont’s debut as new conductor of Boca Symphonia draws rapturous audience response

By Alan Becker

Philippe Entremont

The Boca Raton Symphonia has been performing to very high praise since 2004. Drawing upon some of the finest area musicians, it now begins its 2010-2011 season with a new principal conductor at the helm.

French pianist Philippe Entremont, long ago joined the ranks of solo artists turning their attention to conducting. Sunday afternoon’s opening concert at the Roberts Theater of the St. Andrew’s School was mostly traditional fare, presenting Entremont in the dual capacity of both conductor and pianist.

Opening the concert was Souvenirs by composer Richard Danielpour, a West Palm Beach resident. Originally premiered in 2008 by Entremont and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Danielpour’s work was written in celebration of Entremont’s 75th birthday.

At about 15 minutes duration, it is a substantial composition of considerable appeal and, like much of this composer’s music, holds no terrors for most of today’s audiences. The five movements speak of New York, Kyoto, New Orleans, Paris, and Vienna, all locations that have played important roles in Entremont’s life. The music is subtle and does not seek to portray these locations in a programmatic way. There is also a refreshing lyrical strain to much of the writing, with some lovely sounds that do not fit the general idea of contemporary writing. Danielpour was present to take bows for this audience pleaser.

With back to the audience and piano top closed to allow visibility, Entremont both played and conducted Mozart’s popular Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor.

It was a vigorous performance, rich in nuance, and overflowing with sustained beauty, especially in the central Romanze.  With the closed top, some piano tones were a little muffled. This was a small price to pay in favor of  a greater rapport with the orchestra, and the ability for players to more easily follow Entremont’s very demonstrative gestures. Clearly, the role of conductor was not subservient to that of the pianist as phrases were molded with far greater care than is usual in dual role performances.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 was written when the composer was in his mid-thirties and came across as a refreshing essay from his middle period. The music is both gentle and joyful and presents a sharp contrast falling between the drive of  the preceding Eroica and the fateful power of the Fifth Symphony.

Entremont’s tempos were generally fast, and in the case of the Adagio perhaps too much so. Still, Entremont made a good case for his approach, and the orchestra responded with enthusiasm, skill, and tone of silken clarity. The capacity audience applauded enthusiastically with one of the afternoon’s many standing ovations.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Entremont’s debut as new conductor of Boca Symphonia draws rapturous audience response”

  1. Posted Dec 08, 2010 at 12:36 pm by Nancy

    It’s not that the piano top was closed … in fact, the piano had no top. This concert was delightful and, as the reviewer has stated, there was much cause for the many standing ovations.

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Mon Dec 6, 2010
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