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A new season for MITSO starts off with promise

MIT Symphony Orchestra

Jolivet Concertino for Trumpet, Piano, and Strings, Schubert Unfinished Symphony No. 8, Mozart Flute Concerto in G, Alan Pierson Music for Orchestra.

Conducted by David Epstein.

Featuring soloists Stephen G. Tistaert '98, trumpet; Patricia Y. Lee '98, flute.

By Craig Chang
Arts Editor

L ast Friday introduced an almost new MIT Symphony Orchestra, filled with a fresh batch of excellent players. This year's orchestra expresses itself more subtly; its newfound resilience surges with assurance, shrinks back to balance soloists, and knows exactly the kernel that links players to musical drama.

The evening began with a deceptively good performance of Andr Jolivet's Concertino for Trumpet, Piano and Strings. The piece began on a dissonant note, which extended into funky and bluesy lines. Soloist Stephen G. Tistaert '98 maneuvered around the piece's multiple personalities with contemporary cool. Like an inhabitant of a blues bar, the performance blew a distant smoke - and this was perfect for the piece's sophisticated, scattered character.

Reflecting today's eclectic tastes, the program next featured Schubert's Unfinished Symphony No. 8. Here the fresh character of the ensemble emerged. As though they were the inner parts of the piece itself, the players captured the mysterious undercurrents of the symphony. The sonorous calling that opens the first movement layered a near haunting texture, over which the players traced urgent shapes of melody.

When the cellos began to sing the second subject, melody unraveled with such natural ease from the initial textures that one could have forgotten it was invention. Other players built upon this inspiration, but stopped short of growing organically from it. The Unfinished is notoriously difficult to coordinate, and conductor David Epstein often drew lonely moments of understated heroism from the orchestra.

If the group's craft wavered by the Schubert's second movement, the reading of Mozart's Flute Concerto in G by Patricia Y. Lee '98 regained control of it. By the first notes of the third movement, the talented flutist made one forget that Mozart is extremely difficult to play. Lee brought one into the world of Mozart and made her instrument seem facile, its sound unfolding naturally from thin air.

Lee played the Rondo as if it were part of her own language, joyful and pure. Mozart is often overplayed, but Lee cut past all overworn sentimentality and simply played, never letting us ponder her interpretation. She drew that invisible, taut string between the music and listeners.

The program closed with a reminder that the MITSO feeds itself with its own love for music. Symphony president Alan E. Pierson '96 composed Music for Orchestra solely for members of the group. Pierson describes influence from Hindemith, but his piece really is as much fun and accessible as Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Pierson has a way of making majestic contour out of the simplest motives. His thoughtful composition was fitting for the collective strength of the entire orchestra.