Miami Symphony serves up a romantic Valentine repast

By Dorothy Hindman

Eduardo Marturet

The Miami Symphony Orchestra served up a “Valentine’s Extravaganza” at FIU’s Wertheim Performing Arts Center on Saturday night.  Like a heart-shaped box of chocolates, it was a sampler of love-themed music designed to please every palate.  Conductor Eduardo Marturet’s flamboyant style was well-suited to the romance of the evening.

The concert began with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.  Unfortunately, intonation problems and messy entrances in the winds marred an otherwise secure rendition.  Strings were impressive, especially in unison, lightning-fast runs in the central section.  Wertheim’s hall complemented MISO’s full-bodied sound, blending the orchestra to its advantage the entire evening.

Russian-born violinist Ilya Kaler, whose credentials include top prizes from the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Paganini competitions, joined the orchestra for two works. Hungarian composer Karl Goldmark’s Violin Concerto, written in 1877, is a Romantic work with hints of Magyar folk music. The brief but appealing Andante movement centers completely around the soloist, with long lines in a sweetly melancholic mood.  Kaler wrought a bright, clear tone from his instrument, but his tendency to slide into the pitch was distracting, even considering liberties taken in a folk style. Marturet led the orchestra in an understated, perfectly synced partnership.

Kaler showed off his pyrotechnics in Pablo Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, featuring themes from Georges Bizet’s opera.  Sarasate’s arrangement puts violinists through their paces with numerous challenging techniques and Kaler showed off the wide range of colors at his command.  Although his pitch slides persisted, Kaler has an endearing stage presence and his playful manner was infectious, eliciting spontaneous applause after the Habanera passage at the center of the work.

The final works on the program were the most successful. Marturet coaxed out silkiness from the strings for the pastoral Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.  Marturet conducts like a dancer or a swimmer, drawing his arms through the air in huge sweeps, passionately conducting gestures more than the beat pattern.  The pastoral Intermezzo benefited, with excellent phrasing and dynamic contrasts from the musicians adding depth to the stirring melodies.

Saving the best for last, MISO rounded off the program with Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.  From the opening Prologue, there was great swagger to the performance, especially in the winds and brass, as they navigated rapidly changing colors and syncopated rhythms.  An intimate string quartet with harp conveyed the longing of Somewhere, assisted by Hector Rodriguez’s perfectly pitched horn solo.  A well balanced and blended Scherzo built into the exciting Mambo movement, with its spotlight on an expanded percussion section that rocked the house.

The subsequent contrast of the tender Cha-Cha was further enhanced by chamber work in the piano, harp, flute, and four first violins.  Concertmaster Daniel Andai delivered touching solos. The Cool Fugue was another workout for the whole orchestra, building again to the intensity of the climactic Rumble.  The delicacy of the Finale, with gentle winds and a sensitive, mournful melody in strings did not mute the audience’s enthusiasm at the end of the work.  Their ardent response earned them an encore of the Mambo.

The program is repeated 8 p.m. Sunday at the New World Center in Miami Beach.; 305-275-5666.

Posted in Performances

3 Responses to “Miami Symphony serves up a romantic Valentine repast”

  1. Posted Feb 12, 2012 at 11:40 am by Daniel Lewis

    What a fantastic concert! The city of Miami should finally start taking notice of ITS orchestra. The Bernstein was a first rate performance. Why import an orchestra from Cleveland when our city can once again have an orchestra that truly belongs to Miami? All the Miami Symphony needs is a community that fully supports them and the sky is the limit. The Cleveland Orchestra “Miami”??? How about the MIAMI Symphony Orchestra!

  2. Posted Feb 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm by Judy Einhorn

    A fantastic concert
    What was so special to me was seeing so many young
    people in the audience

    Very special

  3. Posted Feb 29, 2012 at 9:28 am by Kenneth Martinson

    It is very sad that the Miami Symphony is now 3 concert sets behind in paying their musicians. I find it disgraceful the way this organization treats it’s musicians so unfairly. I wonder if Marturet has also delayed his own pay. Somehow I doubt it.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012
at 11:12 am