Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra winds down season with delightful tribute, premiere

The Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra gave a Mother’s Day concert Sunday afternoon at the Glens Falls H

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For Gazette music writer Geraldine Freedman’s preview of this show, click here.

The Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra gave a Mother’s Day concert Sunday afternoon at the Glens Falls High School to end what has been a very successful 25th season. The concert was also in memory of Hugh Allen Wilson, the orchestra’s former music director, who died in December at age 85, and a belated birthday wish to Tchaikovsky, who would have celebrated his 171st birthday on Saturday. It was also the local premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s new work, which received its world premiere last October in Memphis.

Music director Charles Peltz told the large crowd the program’s first half was expanded from Golijov’s “Siderius” to include Mozart’s Overture to “The Impresario” and Barber’s Adagio for Strings, a short piece that has become traditional to play as a memoriam — in this case for Wilson, who had been among the first people to hear the work when it was composed.

The Mozart was buoyant with strong pulses, easy to listen to and very light. There were a few inaccuracies in the strings but these passed. Peltz set a solid tempo with clear phrasing. The Barber went well, and Peltz developed the slow dynamic buildup with good control. The strings, however, tended to be a bit too vertical in their enunciation and in their attacks. More arc was needed and more elision between phrases. For some reason, after the big climax they were seamless in their delivery.

The Golijov, whose inspiration was a Galileo treatise on the moon, was all atmosphere, mystery and color. Dark harmonies, repeated string figures of the type that Vivaldi wrote, staggered entrances, and a pretty melody over long lines made the seven-minute work sound like a ship sailing slowly past the dark side of the moon. A few tone clusters and a tricky rhythmic passage for the winds peppered the otherwise continuously slow moving current. The orchestra did well and probably would have been a bit tighter on a second performance. Peltz was precise.

Although the orchestra had never performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 before, the musicians knew the piece. That translated into an excellent sense of how to get the job done and make the four movements sing. Peltz was expansive and tried some interesting things with tempos, but he remained precise overall. His phrases swooned and his balances were solid.

The orchestra sounded robust and lush, and its ability to go from thunderous big effects to delicate moments was impressive. The brass shone. After an awkward beginning for the strings, everything quickly fell into place. The second movement’s melody had great lift and the plucked strings in the third were frothy. The final movement was fast, splashy, expressive and brilliant.

The audience cheered and whistled.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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