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In musical terms, Sunday’s concert at the symphony wasn’t that different from Friday’s. The differences were in minor cases such as the clarinet solo at the top of Rhapsody in Blue being a tad smoother and Jon Kimura Parker “milking it” a little more in his solo passages. There may have been some slight tempo variations but on the whole, both performances were stellar.

We’ve looked at the two piano rhapsodies a little bit but we haven’t touched the two orchestral rhapsodies.

The concert started with Alfvèn’s Swedish Rhapsody. I wasn’t familiar with the piece and when it started I thought it was something of a cream puff, especially for a 20th Century piece of music. Before long I was convinced that this cream puff was a gem.


According to the program, maestro Ling last put this piece on the program during his first season in San Diego. Both conductor and orchestra thrived in this music. I’ve noticed that as a trend this season. The 20th Century music appears to be where maestro Ling and the orchestra feel most comfortable.

An exception would be the concert that featured Strauss’ Metamorphosis for Strings and Mozart’s Haffner Symphony. The Mozart was, by far, the strongest piece in that concert. Of course, the conductor was Pinchas Zukerman and I think it is safe to say that 20th Century music isn’t his forte.

I was thrilled to see Enescu on the program. We used to call him “the wrecking ball” because his music would knock your building down. While the Rumanian Rhapsody isn’t wrecking ball music, it does have its moments and it shows off the abilities of a great orchestra.

The program mentioned that Enescu was committed to Romania’s heritage as being Roman instead of Slavic. However, there was a definite gypsy flavor to the string parts. I don’t know if gypsies were of Slavic or Roman origin but I’m going with Roman on this one because they sounded like aggressive gypsies who might sack your town.

You know, the kind of gypsies that you threaten your children with, “If you don’t knock it off, the gypsies are going to come take you away.”

The San Diego strings should have been wearing ribbons, beads, and bandanas because they played with all the flavor and flair of a legion of gypsy fiddlers. That’s not to say that the string section might steal your children—although I’m sure some childhoods have been stolen by the violin. I’m just saying.

This concert was the most recent thrill in a season that has been nothing less than a celebration of great musicians playing great music AND Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique is next! I almost got a tear just thinking about it.

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