The DSO’s Music Committee was courageous in choosing a new piece to begin the concert and they made a safe choice: Robert Ward’s Festive Ode is a marvelous mix of extremely well-orchestrated American music which allowed each section of the orchestra to be highlighted and it was a fun homecoming experience.
Misha Dichter took command of a beautiful Steinway grand which had so much horsepower that he managed to overshadow the orchestra for a while, but pulled back with his sensitive yet untrammeled version of the famous Variation 18. The percussion section was magically energetic with the dies irae theme, hats off to the glockenspiel!
Mr. Dichter played a clean, but quietly expressive Claire de Lune as an encore and Maestro Amado and the orchestra surprised him after that by playing Happy Birthday to honor the day. (Mr. Dichter seemed pleased and surprised by the gesture.)
Mr. Amado had the orchestra illustrate the themes of the Prelude to the afternoon of a faun by Claude Debussy. The soft colors of the orchestra told us that none of the players had lost any luster in the rough and uncertain past year. The dynamics were so soft, especially with Katy Ambrose’s delicate horn entrance on a whisper. What a woodwind section the DSO has as well!
After the impressionistic pastels came the thunderous Firebird Suite. The strings outdid themselves with a super
soft beginning and eerie harmonics. The
clarinets took the magic jazzy, klezmer lines and played them as if they were
easy as pie. The Infernal dance had that unleashed wildness led by Donna Battista on
piano and some great percussion on xylophone.
Jon Gaarder played a smooth and controlled lullaby solo before the
Welcome back to the Grand, Delaware Symphony Orchestra!