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April 29, 2005

Boston College Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert Review

Roger Nanni

      The Boston College Symphony Orchestra ushered in the new season with their spring concert, performing works by Handel, Grieg and Beethoven. The orchestra commenced the performance with Handel's Suite in D Major to a diverse audience of students, family, and faculty. The ensemble performed this Baroque piece in a way fitting to the uplifting, joyous nature of the music. Sujit John, '05 (solo trumpet), clearly punctuated the flowing melodic lines, as the strings and woodwinds provided a clean harmonic underpinning. John Finney (conductor) brought life into the piece through his incisive conducting, and on the whole the relatively brief suite seemed to rouse the audience's mood for a night of good music.

      Following the Handel was Edvard Grieg's Suite From Holberg's Time, Op. 40. The orchestra's performance of this work varied from section to section. The ensemble (the higher strings in particular) seemed to have difficulty in the faster tempo sections, specifically the Prelude and the Gavotte. The higher strings muddled many of the faster rhythmic runs, and the orchestra overall felt disconnected, leaving the audience yearning for the more fluid, smoother sound of Handel Suite. However, the ensemble's emotive performance of the Air section balanced the mediocre job of the previous sections. The performers played with a soulful, lyric quality that accompanied the building presence of the music.

      After a brief intermission, the audience and performers regained themselves for the much awaited Beethoven Symphony. Not as well known as his other symphonies (such as the 3rd, 5th, 6th, or 9th) No. 2 in D major, Op. 36 does not disappoint. The work is still uniquely "Beethoven" but was not considered as dissonant or tumultuous as the Eroica. Due to this the work has been dubbed as more of a "happier" Beethoven symphony, and has thus been thought of as Ludwig's tribute to Mozart. However, the first movement, drawn out in sonata form, is no happy skip through the countryside. The orchestra and conductor seemed to recognize this, and the performers played with renewed conviction after the Grieg. Although stated to be in D major, shifts to the minor mode makes is frequently by Beethoven in the first movement. The strings seemed much more proficient when performing fast rhythmic runs in the exposition, and deftly moved through the rapid rhythmic deconstruction of the original themes in the development. The strong presence of senior Alex Jung on timpani added to the force of the first movement, and after the closing statement the ensemble had reestablished their presence after the Grieg.

      After an intense, idea filled first movement the orchestra cruised their way through the next two movements. The second movement was a slow larghetto, a much need breath after the rapid, stirring first movement. Just when the second movement became too heavy and serious, the orchestra jumped into the playful Scherzo movement. The contrast of material was artfully directed by conductor Finney, who led the ensemble to the bombastic fourth movement. The orchestra still held a strong presence and marched through the music to the end. As a whole, the Boston College Symphony Orchestra presented an evening of enjoyable music, and provided a strong foundation for the upcoming Arts Festival.

Front Page (April 29, 2005)

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