The State Symphony of Mexico has been on tour since mid-January, but the musicians sounded exhilarated Friday night at Proctors.
Because this concert was one of 48 concerts the orchestra is doing over 19 states, the program performed was one of seven it’s doing and was not provided to the theater. Thus, with no printed program, the small but enthusiastic crowd could only guess at what was being played.
Fortunately, two of the works were familiar: Cuban pianist Leonel Morales was the soloist in Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto and the other was Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5.
Also performed was Carlos Chavez’s mellifluous arrangement of Buxtehude’s Chaconne and Silvestre Revueltas’ exotic “Sensemaya.”
Throughout all the works, the orchestra got a clear, bright sound that was quite pleasing and very vibrant. Ensemble work and various solos were all excellent. The orchestra was extremely well prepared.
Only the conductor, Enrique Batiz, seemed weary. He conducted most of the Buxtehude only with his right arm beating time. When he walked off or on stage, he seemed to be willing himself onward.
But in the Rachmaninoff, he gave Morales outstanding support. Balances were so good that you could hear every one of the pianist’s thousands of notes — and maybe even a few of Morales’ added in.
The concerto is a huge amount of work for a pianist and it was obvious that Morales put much thought into what he wanted to do. In the first two movements, he was highly introspective with extended phrase points, very soft conclusions and sometimes an exaggerated pacing. The music’s rhapsodic sense slipped by without a thrill. His long cadenza was, however, quite good.
Morales charged electrically into the final movement with his big technique to bring the crowd to its feet.
The orchestra was a bit rough at first in the Mendelssohn, but settled down and played with great aplomb and elegance. Batiz seemed more energetic and gave little half hops when he wanted more from the players. His beat seemed the same regardless of dynamic level but the orchestra probably knows what he wants by osmosis.
The musicians played the third movement’s eloquent lyricism with special sensitivity and sounded very fresh in the finale.
Revueltas’ piece, which is a dance about a snake, had loads of percussion, edgy brass and very tricky rhythms. Surprisingly, although it was the only piece written by a Mexican, it was the one piece on the program that didn’t flow.
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Categories: Life and Arts