The Schenectady Symphony Orchestra under music director Charles Schneider gave a concert Sunday afternoon at Proctors of music famous for its glorious melody and lightness of spirit.
They began with Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major (“Haffner”). Schneider set a lively tempo in the first movement. Strings were especially light and accurate but balances seemed to favor the brass. Fluid phrasing and pitch were also good in the slower second movement, and there were some nice delicate nuances in the strings in the charming third movement’s Menuetto.
The tempo in the finale didn’t fly as it was supposed to, but Schneider kept a steady pace and maintained the dynamic levels in the medium range. Balances also tended to favor the brass and timpani.
Principal clarinetist Tom Gerbino was the soloist in Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet. Although the work was written originally for basset clarinet, most modern clarinetists don’t play that instrument, so some of the lower notes in the part are transposed up. This, however, doesn’t disturb the flow or wonderfully appealing melodies of the part.
Gerbino took a jaunty, even bold, attitude throughout the three movements. His manner was carefree, even if some of the runs were a bit flubbed or a squawk occurred, tossing those off with panache. He chose not to be too refined in his phrasing, preferring to cut off his releases. He also used music but would occasionally turn to the crowd toward the end of a statement as if to say, “There it is.”
Schneider was completely supportive and the orchestra sounded excellent. Even dynamic shifts were done with care, balances were exact, and pitch was centered. The audience liked it and gave Gerbino and the orchestra an enthusiastic response.
Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major (“Italian”) was a challenge and Schneider took no chances. His tempos in the outer two movements were light but a bit slow so that the strings could get all those notes in. Still, he kept the pace even and dynamic levels were especially good. The inner two slower movements rolled right along with some excellent ensemble work from the woodwinds. Phrases were very fluid and smooth.
The next concert is March 10 with a small orchestra in the GE Theatre, so seating is limited. The program includes work by Mozart, Holst, Britten and Copland.