Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another Grand Night with the Delaware Symphony

By Christine Facciolo
It was certainly a grand night at the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. The Grand Opera House in Wilmington was filled, one presumes, to hear Tchaikovsky’s much-loved Piano Concerto No. 1 with the young Cleveland-born pianist Orion Weiss.

The concerto was absolutely spectacular. It is a tribute to Music Director David Amado and the immensely talented musicians of the DSO that the concert came off at all — let alone as well as it did. A hefty snowstorm just two days prior forced the cancellation of several rehearsal dates not to mention delaying the soloist’s arrival in town. Amado and flutist Eileen Grycky joked about the title of the concert, “Destiny,” in light of the week’s weather events.

The concert opened, appropriately enough, with a fine rendering of the melancholy and agitation of the overture to Verdi’s opera La forza del destino.

Pianist Orion Weiss then took his place at the keyboard and showed why critics have called him one of the most sought after soloists in his generation of young American musicians.

To say that Weiss wowed in his debut with the DSO would be an understatement. His was an exceptionally thoughtful performance. There was to be sure plenty of jaw-dropping showmanship but the loud passages were well-modulated to the capabilities of the piano, the venue and the level of the orchestra. The lyrical moments between the pyrotechnics were lovingly shaped and nuanced. The finale was high-voltage and Weiss executed its bursts of virtuosity with lightning speed.

For an encore, Weiss again dazzled with a performance of the final movement of Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin.

After intermission, the DSO returned with one of the lynchpins of the 20th Century orchestra repertoire, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. Written in 1943, a year before the composer died of leukemia, it is an unusually exuberant work given the circumstances under which it was created.

As anyone familiar with the work knows, each of the five movements a different section or sections of the orchestra and each conveys a different mood or character. The first is mysterious and “folkish,” while the second is humorous but with a solemn middle section. The third is very dark, but followed by a light intermezzo which parodies the Shostakovich Seventh, which although an enormously popular work at the time, was one Bartok intensely disliked. The finale is epic and triumphant.

All of these qualities came through strongly and convincingly in this well-executed rendering. From piccolo to tuba, the musicians turned in first-rate performances, presenting further evidence that the DSO is one of the finest regional orchestras on the scene.

See www.delawaresymphony.org.

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