Music of the Night
RAVEL – Introduction and Allegro
DVOŘÁK – Serenade in E major, Op. 22
FALLA – Nights in the Gardens of Spain
MOZART – Symphony No. 35 in D major, K.385 ‘Haffner‘
Okko Kamu conductor
Thomas Hecht piano
Gulnara Mashurova harp
(Concert information courtesy of SSO)
In a strange series of events, I exchanged tickets of another show (which had its programme changed) for this concert, and very fortunately, it proved to be a magical night.
Opening the scene with (one of) Ravel’s landmark chamber piece(s), the Introduction and Allegro shimmered and shone. A passionate cellist and finely emotional (guest) first violinist played the foil to a slightly aloof but supremely refined Mashurova (harpist), and a pair of woodwinds (flute & clarinet) and yet another violinist rounded out the intimately blended septet.
The star of the night, however, was undoubtedly the evergreen Serenade, with a fresh breath of life instilled in pleasantly surprising fashion by the trademark ebb-and-swell of Kamu’s and balance of Lu Wei’s presence. Apart from a slightly flat note from the lower strings at the first few chords, the remarkably responsive and moderately echo-y acoustic synergised with the gusto and sensitivity of the orchestra turned an almost over-heard piece into a melodious journey spanning vast tracts of emotional ground.
It was somewhat curious then that the curtain closer was a Mozart symphony. A deceptively cool smoke-against-the-fiery-background Falla preceded the symphony, with a matchingly suave Hecht setting the atmosphere and playing the sparks to the smoldering embers of the tutti, igniting them ever so often and unexpectedly.
The finale of the “Haffner” carried the hangover of later styles from the other works in the programme, yet maintained a cleanliness and a notable degree of cohesion that makes good Mozart great, jokes about cheesiness and immaturity aside. Despite not being the finale that a Dvorak fanboy like myself would have liked, the symphony ended the concert like a fresh white does a memorable dinner.
Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, 1923 Recording
Dvorak’s “American” Quartet (recorded by Prazak Quartet)