Orchestra Miami brings classical music to new audiences at North Beach

By Lawrence Budmen

Eliane Rinaldi conducted Orchestra Miami Sunday at the North Beach Bandshell.

On a humid South Florida evening, a large audience turned out for Orchestra Miami’s “Beethoven on the Beach” concert Sunday at the North Beach Bandshell on Collins Avenue. While the inevitable amplification at an outdoor concert caused some problems with balance and volume,  the performances were well rehearsed and secure. 

Many listeners were clearly experiencing classical music for the first time; under the circumstances, even their applause between movements of a symphony was a positive and heartening reflection of their appreciation for the art. Conductor Elaine Rinaldi’s comments preceding the performances proved engaging, giving listeners just enough information to aid in their enjoyment.

Rinaldi opened with the Overture and finale from Beethoven’s only ballet score The Creatures of Prometheus. The slow introduction was broadly stated and she adopted a brisk tempo for the main Allegro section. Strings were accurate and unified and the flutes encompassed the secondary subject with spot-on cohesion. Familiar themes from Beethoven’s Egmont incidental music and the final movement of the “Eroica” Symphony form the basis of the ballet’s concluding sequence. Rinaldi’s unhurried pacing accented the charm of this setting (as compared to the theme’s heroic nature in the symphony). She infused high spirit into the coda. When will a contemporary choreographer set this entrancing Beethoven opus?

Cellist Aaron Merritt soloed in Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor. He gave a sturdy, muscular account of the Gallic accented work but was not aided by the microphone attached to his instrument which amplified his heavy vibrato. Merritt’s encore of Saint-Saëns’ Allegro Appassionato was rendered with gutsy aplomb.

The opening bars of Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni were solemn, evoking the statue of the Commendatore and the fate that befalls the opera’s lecherous protagonist. Rinaldi took the succeeding allegro at a lively clip. The well-articulated reading radiated the opera’s dramma giocoso spirit.

Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major (“Italian”) is one of the composer’s sunniest works and Rinaldi’s iteration was appropriately high spirited. In the first movement, she evoked rich sonorities from the strings and the important trumpet parts came through with clear impact. 

The warmth of the wind playing added depth to the stately evocation of a religious procession (which Mendelssohn witnessed in Naples) in the Andante con moto. A bright and incisive Con moto moderato (third movement) set the stage for the whirling final saltarello. With sharp string attacks and winds floating the dancing motifs, Rinaldi ratcheted up the tension and excitement. Mendelssohn’s buoyant evocation of Italy proved the perfect finale to send the listeners out into the warm night air.

Orchestra Miami repeats the program 8 p.m. Friday at Pinecrest Gardens in South Miami and 6 p.m. Saturday at Gateway Park in Sunny Isles Beach. orchestramiami.org


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Mon Mar 11, 2024
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