Symphony CEO Martha Gilmore made some lovely statements before Saturday night’s symphony concert. She also made a sly remark about the house being sold out for the music of Erich Korngold. Of course, the house was sold out to see violinist Itzhak Perlman perform. As it turns out Gilmore was correct. We were there for Korngold and just didn't realize it.
It can safely be said that there have been no violinists greater than Perlman in his generation. That said, Saturday night was a forgettable performance by the venerable master with the quick wit.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold — The Sea Hawk
Jeffrey Schindler conducts
As the headliner, he played a number of movie tunes that had been arranged by John Williams, which comprised the second half of the concert. These arrangements emphasized the sweet tone for which Perlman is justifiably famous.
The music was based on themes from movies such as Casablanca, Schindler’s List, and Scent of a Woman. While lovely, these selections were too similar. The musical effect became stagnant and there was not one single virtuosic phrase in the entire performance.
However, the tone of the trombones was gorgeous when they entered during the Out of Africa theme. Beautiful.
Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront provided a slippery start to the concert. I'm not sure if Bernstein himself weren't at fault but the first measures of this music were something of a mess. Order was eventually restored and the beauty of Bernstein’s music received a full expression.
The Sea Hawk by Korngold concluded the first half of the concert and was hands down the best part of the night.
I find Korngold’s music, in general, to be quite touching and emotionally moving. The Sea Hawk was exciting but it was in the delicate moments that I found a welcome repose. Cristian Măcelaru, a returning guest from last season, commanded the orchestral ship with a certainty of direction and purpose.
More on him later.