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David Ramadanoff, conductor
Master Sinfonia New Season Concert
By Gary Lemco
THE MASTER SINFONIA CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, David Ramadanoff conducting, opened its 2011-2012 season with works by Rossini, Rodrigo, and Schumann, a colorful and congenial afternoon of music-making at the Los Altos United Methodist Church, Sunday November 6. Guitar soloist Paul Psarras joined the Master Sinfonia players in the ever-melodic Concierto de Aranguez (1939) by Rodrigo, whose second movement Adagio bears a charmed life of its own.
The program began with the sumptuous Overture to Semiramide (1823) by Gioachino Rossini, a brilliantly scored piece for an otherwise violent opera that guarantees Rossini’s sobriquet as “Monsieur Crescendo.” The slow introduction, with its grand sonority from four horns, soon yielded to the texture of the woodwinds, particularly the flute of Kathryn Barnard and clarinet Gerard Lambert. Once the forward motion erupted, the suave momentum of the infectious rhythms had the small but dedicated audience under its spell, quite beguiled by the plastic, fervent details of the reading.
The Concierto de Aranguez likely comes first to anyone’s mind when he considers a relatively modern guitar concerto after the models of Vivaldi. The dance rhythms celebrate the gardens of the Palacio Real de Aranguez, the spring resort constructed by Philip II as a recreational tribute to the Bourbon Kings who ruled Spain. Guitar solo Psarras set the tone of the first movement with animated riffs fertilized by woodwinds that intimated the bucolic delights of a summer garden. The famous Adagio, set for English horn (Meave Cox) and guitar conveyed that luminous, even transcendent “soul of Spain” quality that insures the work’s natural immortality. The last movement returned to the vehicle of the courtly dance that sets duple against triple meters among varied woodwind colors. The last chord immediately had the grateful audience on its collective feet for a generous display of gratitude for a fine performance.
The final work of the program, Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38 (1841) “Spring,” like the opening Rossini, permitted the orchestral ensemble to shine on its own, often in glowing and heraldic terms appropriate to the composer’s elated, songful spirit that imbues the composition. Once more, the Master Sinfonia brass section demonstrated homogeneous, sonorous articulation in the opening invocation to Nature, with fine support from the dominant flute part. The cellos and low strings sang quite vibrantly in the ensuing Larghetto, another expression of Rousseau’s conceit that Nature frees men from those “chains” that define too much of civilization. The addition of tympani and triangle (Len Sperry and Lily Sevier) illuminated Schumann’s color even further for the robust Scherzo and its pair of trios; the finale—Allegro animato e
Grazioso—bursting with an élan and vitality typical of this ensemble when inspired by its veteran conductor.
The Master Sinfonia, no longer underwritten by funds from Foothill College, seeks contributions from private donations, as the ensemble is now organized under non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Dr. Gary R. Lemco regularly contributes reviews to
Classical Music Guide/i]. He lives in California.
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