Challenging program attacked with zest and originality
MIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conducted by David Epstein
Works by Ernest Bloch and Sibelius.
Kresge Auditorium, Saturday, October 28.
By JONATHAN RICHMOND
SATURDAY NIGHT saw the MIT Symphony Orchestra on top form, attacking a challenging program with zest and not a little originality. David Epstein and his vibrant crew certainly sold their audience on two works set quite some distance from the standard warhorse repertory.
Most impressive was the thrilling account of Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D. The strings were all wonderfully disciplined and the balance within the orchestra as a whole was such as to ensure a clarity which permitted enjoyment of all the details in the score. The darker side of the score was brought out by piquant wind and earthy brass sonorities set against controlled but expressive strings.
The cello pizzicato of the second movement was impressive. The tense opening of the third movement lent urgency. Throughout the performance, the work was conveyed expansively, and with a sense of grandeur, sometimes brought out by subtle coloration, sometimes thrust forward with heroic abandon. Most credit in the frenetic excitement department goes to the brass section, which performed with unceasing flair and precision. The MIT Symphony made the concluding Allegro moderato into a real thriller, climactically powerful but complex as well: something to really get the audience on their seat edges. Bravo!
The concert had begun with Ernest Bloch's Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra and Piano Obbligato. The opening Prelude was crisply done and dramatic; the middle movements were played with sensitivity and the Fugue brought the work to an incisive conclusion. The strings produced some wonderful textures with only momentary lapses in coordination. The piano, however, was submerged for too much of the time and did not stand out as it should have done. All in all, nonetheless, this was a great concert.