Orchestra Miami’s streaming Beethoven festival is off to worthy start

By David Fleshler

Askar Salimdjanov performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in a streamed performance with Orchestra Miami Friday night.

The toughest musical challenge in this hazardous new era must be to put on a concert for a large ensemble.

Orchestra Miami made the attempt Friday, giving a livestreamed performance of two classics, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The event was part of the chamber orchestra’s monthlong “Beethoven for Miami Festival.”

Playing at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach, the musicians performed masked and socially distanced. String players ditched the convivial practice of sharing music stands. Winds and brass musicians were particularly socially distanced, with translucent screens placed in front of them.

Audience members “attended” via streaming on Facebook or the bandshell’s webpage. Aside from the last movement of the Tchaikovsky, when video and sound fell grievously out of sync, it all worked pretty well. Now in its 14th season, Orchestra Miami deserves credit for trying to maintain the spirit of live concerts at a challenging time for musical performances.

The 40-member orchestra may have been about the size of the ensemble that gave the Beethoven Sixth’s world premiere, which took place at an 1808 Vienna concert that also saw the first public performances of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Piano Concerto No. 4 and Fifth Symphony.

Under the direction of Elaine Rinaldi, the orchestra’s founder and artistic director, the ensemble gave a verdant, lively performance of one of Beethoven’s happiest, most tranquil works.

Rinaldi showed firm control over the orchestra, bringing the ensemble to a precise but unforced deceleration in the opening theme. There were intonation issues in the strings, and moments that could have used more sense of structure, such as the climactic points of the first movement. But on the whole, the musicians performed in a natural, relaxed manner that brought out the spirit of the music.

The second movement features bird calls in flute, oboe and clarinets, and these were performed with a crisp assertiveness that created a vivid, picturesque effect.  

Winds and horns played in a lively, expressive manner in the third movement’s county folk dance. Again, there were a few rough edges in the ensemble, but this was one of those rustic works where that didn’t matter as much. And the storm movement that followed came off with gruff precision, with rumbling timpani, and vivid effects of thunder, lightning and rain in the full orchestra.  

The concluding Allegretto vividly expressed a sense of quiet delight in nature. The serene melody built to an ecstatic expression in the full orchestra, with transparent textures topped by shimmering violins.

The soloist in the Tchaikovsky was Askar Salimdjanov, a young Uzbek violinist who studies at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music with the noted violinist Elmar Oliveira. 

With a rich, warm sound and a high degree of technical skill, Salimdjanov had the goods to handle this great Romantic concerto. He brought off the melodies with a dance-like elegance and blazed through runs to the instrument’s upper reaches, maintaining a shining tone all the way to the top. He ran into some accuracy issues in the rapid sections with double-stops, and got lost for a few seconds when the same passage came around again, but quickly recovered.

Under Rinaldi’s direction, the orchestra kept up with him even in the rough parts and provided him with firm support.

The violinist brought a hushed, expressive tone to the Canzonetta, playing with passionate intensity as the music soared up to the topmost string. Wind instruments matched him, bringing luminous expression to the melodies and ornamentations with which they accompanied the violin.

Video and sound became catastrophically out of sync in the finale, so that the violinist was shown standing silently during the orchestral introduction while someone else seemed to be tearing into the gritty solo violin part. The entire movement stayed that way, so it was better to just focus on the music.

Salimdjanov gave a vigorous performance, with an edgy momentum and sure technique. There was an excitement to his playing that filled the performance with energy. His crisp execution of difficult passages, such as rapid-fire passages of two or three simultaneous notes, gave the performance all the virtuoso flair it needed.  

Orchestra Miami’s streaming Beethoven for Miami Festival continues 4 p.m. Sunday with Elaine Rinaldi and Don Cannarozzi performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in a duo-piano version. orchestramiami.org

Posted in Performances

Leave a Comment

Sat Nov 14, 2020
at 1:14 pm
No Comments