Spokane Symphony Orchestra Sunday, April 30, The Met
The Spokane Symphony moved with the change of seasons Sunday afternoon at The Met. Conductor Fabio Mechetti assembled a springlike garland of serenades to end the symphony’s chamber orchestra series serenades by Mozart, Rossini, Dvorak and Strauss. These pieces allow an orchestra to show its warmth and charm.
Sunday’s performance was often stronger on charm than on musical niceties. The bright effect of the program’s beginning was dimmed later by patches of absent-minded intonation, imprecise ensemble playing and a notable chilliness in the string tone.
The program began with a delectable little surprise, Rossini’s “Serenata per piccolo complesso.” Few listeners know Rossini’s instrumental works, but these have the same compelling charm as his operas. Mechetti’s spoken commentary suggested this serenade be thought of as a scene from “Cinderella.” The hopeful first violin and the ardent cello impersonate Cinderella and Prince Charming while the three nattering woodwinds are Cinderella’s stepsisters and stepmother. The players made Mechetti’s improbable suggestion seem quite natural.
Richard Strauss’ Serenade for 13 Winds also proved quite fetching. The work, written when Strauss was only 16, is a far cry from the overheated romanticism of his later operas and symphonic poems. It was, in fact, the teenaged Strauss’ warmhearted tribute to Mozart.
The performance of Mozart’s own “Serenata notturna” and Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings had some graceful touches - particularly Martin Zyskowski’s subtle drumming in the timpani part of the Mozart and a luscious-sounding string playing in the Dvorak’s slow movement. But neither work enjoyed excellent intonation and the ensemble sounded downright scruffy in much of the Dvorak work.
The Met, for all its charm, has unforgiving acoustics. Inaccurate tuning, unpolished ensemble playing or absence of tonal luster cannot pass unnoticed there. It is good for the orchestra to play at The Met, for the place keeps the players on their toes. Regrettably, it also reveals every misstep.
The concert will be repeated at The Met tonight at 7:30.
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