Richard Strauss's musical description of an adventurous day in the Alps and Igor Stravinsky's turbulent tonal depiction of spring make an apt pairing for an afternoon at the symphony. Written in the same period, they share much of the same reverence to nature, observed from man's vulnerable perspectives.
The San Diego Symphony under Jahja Ling faithfully played every note of Strauss's mountain climbing epic without conveying much of the composer's Alpine experience. The sonic sun rose from behind the tall snow-capped peaks without emitting warmth from its ray, the mountain meadow Strauss rushed along without imparting its comforting scents, and the malevolent storm on the descent was all but noise.
Much of the audiences were half asleep by the end and the intermission arrived only to a lukewarm round of applause from the usually overly generous San Diego symphony-goers.
The orchestra was more alive for the second half's Rite of Spring, however, with Valentin Martchev leading the piece off with a hauntingly (but not overly) soulful bassoon solo, setting the mood for the rest of the performance. Maestro Ling deftly kept the complex tone tableaux flowing without a hitch and earned a much warmer reception at the final curtain.
Concert: Alpine Symphony & Rite of Spring
Date: May 16
Venue: Copley Symphony Hall
Seats: Q 36 (Main Level)