Miami Symphony serves up familiar delights from Mendelssohn to Rodrigo

By Richard Yates

Harpist Kristi Shade performed Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” Sunday night with the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

The Miami Symphony Orchestra played a highly enjoyable program Sunday evening at New World Center in Miami Beach, featuring the talents of the versatile maestro Eduardo Marturet and harp soloist, Kristi Shade.

Maurice Ravel’s Ma Mère L’Oye (Mother Goose) demonstrates the composer’s sumptuous orchestral palette. The whimsy of varied fairy tales provides the backdrop for a suite of sonic curiosities, where Ravel seems to have a surprise up his sleeve at every turn.

The first piece, “The Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty,” takes its title from an ancient Renaissance processional dance. As the music starts, a quiet exchange between the flutes and a solo clarinet sets the tone for Ravel’s expressive woodwind writing. The Miami Symphony winds demonstrated warmth and emotion in their rendering of Ravel’s music.

The story of Tom Thumb is illustrated, complete with a little jest in the sounds of birds eating the crumbs he left to find his way. To do this, the concertmaster plays glissandos in the high harmonics, which is answered by birdsong in the piccolo and flute.

The color completely changes in the third piece, “Empress of the Pagodas.” Here, there is a wash of sound with string tremolos, punctuations in the harp, celesta, and percussion. This is the most active of the movements, and it showed off the Miami Symphony’s clean sound and rhythmically tight ensemble playing. In the fourth section, “Beauty and the Beast,” Daniel Andai’s superbly rich violin solo provided the most beautiful moment near the end of the movement.

The MISO musicians rendered a moving portrait of “The Enchanted Garden,” though this music really should be heard with a larger string section to make its full effect.

Joaquín Rodrigo’s celebrated Concierto de Aranjuez, originally a concerto for guitar, was performed in a version for harp and orchestra, retooled by the composer in 1974. Kristi Shade, having studied at the University of Miami, returned to play a richly stirring performance.

Some of the articulation may have been lost from the original version for guitar, the music still projects those well-loved phrases with sensuality, sadness, and vigor. In the familiar Adagio movement, Shade played a subdued cadenza that offered a contemplative moment before the impassioned return of the orchestra with the main theme.

The final work on the program was Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (No. 4). The Romanticism of the symphony bounds forth with the jubilance of the first movement’s sunny theme, which sustains the energy for the rest of the work. The Andante and Moderato movements showcased Miami Symphony’s fine wind playing, especially the solos for clarinet and oboe. The horn call of the Moderato led to a rich quartet with horns and bassoons melding in a gorgeous sustained moment. Finally, the exciting Saltarello, a fast dance originally from Medieval Italian courts, created a crafty foil with the initial dance from the opening of the concert.

Though the program was on the traditional side, the Miami Symphony came across demonstrating their visible enthusiasm for the music and the excellent abilities of the ensemble.

Richard Yates is currently pursuing his doctorate in music composition at The University of Miami. He has performed as a tenor in San Francisco Bay Area choral ensembles and holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and Boston Conservatory in composition and conducting.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Miami Symphony serves up familiar delights from Mendelssohn to Rodrigo”

  1. Posted Mar 04, 2013 at 3:19 pm by Fred Jonas

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Mr Yates. “A good time was had by all,” as they say.

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Mon Mar 4, 2013
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