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MIT Symphony plays Mozarts's drama with wit

MIT Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by David Epstein.
Eran Egozy, violin solo.
Works by Mozart, Nielsen, and Dvork.
Kresge Auditorium.
Oct. 23.

By Thomas Chen
Staff Reporter

MIT's Symphony Orchestra sprang into last action last Saturday with the Overture to Mozart's The Impresario. The violin tone was at times edgy and uneven and the overall violin sound seemed much too big for Mozart's music. But, such lapses into harshness apart, Mozart's drama-in-music was wittily communicated by David Epstein and his musicians.

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was a resourceful and original composer, but an inadequately recognized one. Nielsen ingeniously incorporated the folk music of his homeland, Denmark into his compositions using 20th century poly-tonality, typically exemplified in his Clarinet Concerto. After the imitative entry on a folk-ish tune, the clarinet seems to muse at the song-like passing melodies, integrating them with fast-fingered passagework.

Israeli soloist Eran Egozy did not seem to have any difficulties with Nielsen's demanding score, producing a very round and forceful tone when required -- it was always beautiful. His glorious tone was wonderfully displayed in the very soulful middle section of the piece. Although Egozy did not play from memory, his versatility as a musician gave many of the faster passages an improvisatory character and made the concerto a delight to hear.

Dvork was also one to draw on his national heritage in his work. Throughout his Eighth Symphony, Dvork brilliantly switches moods from measure to measure, highlighting the drama of the music. Epstein certainly had this in mind as he directed a very passionate performance. Fine though Epstein's musical interpretation might have been, however, I again found the violin tone deficient The violinists were unable to produce the reliable, homogenous sound demanded for Dvorak's oft-lush orchestration. On the whole, the sound was fierce, and when it was not fierce, it was just out-of-tune. It would help if the violinists would follow the bowings of their concertmaster, George Ogata.

Although the violas and cellos fared better than the violins, the winds consistently showed more poise. Except for a few (but understandable) wobbles from the horns, the winds played more like a chamber ensemble with a singular musical purpose. They were most effective in the slow movement.

Violin-foibles apart, the orchestra can be praised for their communication of passion in the music, bringing the concert to an emotional conclusion.