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David Ramadanoff, conductor
Anna Maria Mendieta, harpist
Elegant Diversity: Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra Concert
By Gary Lemco
WITH the final bars of the Haydn D Major “The Miracle” Symphony, maestro David Ramadanoff concluded a successful – if sparsely attended – concert by the Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra at the Los Altos United Methodist Church, Sunday, January 27, 2013. Assisted by guest conductor Pamela Martin and harp virtuoso Anna Maria Mendieta, the chamber orchestra provided plenty of evidence of its elegant realization of diverse scores by Faure, Piazzolla, and Haydn. Besides the 1791 Haydn symphony from his set of Solomon group of such works, the big work of the afternoon came in the form of the Tango Suite for Harp and Strings, music by Astor Piazzolla arranged by Pablo Ziegler and Daniel Binelli.
After a verbal presentation by conductor Ramadanoff, guest maestro Pamela Martin led four movements from the Incidental Music for Shylock, Op. 57 (1889) by Gabriel Faure. Opening with a processional Entr’acte, the martial figures soon exhibited the typical modal grace we associate with Faure, including an unforced lyric expression of honest inspiration. The Epithaleme, a wedding-song, followed, also a processional in stately hue. The Nocturne featured only strings, with conductor Martin’s molding the phrases carefully, and reminding this auditor how much the late Thomas Schippers admired this score. The last movement, Final, enjoyed a cantered melodic grace we might have ascribed to Bizet.
Ms. Anna Maria Mendieta is principal harpist of Sacramento Philharmonic, and she plays an eight-pedaled, bright-toned instrument modeled after that custom-made for Nicanor Zabaleta. In the course of her many ravishing glissandi and arpeggiated riffs, she several times in the Piazzolla Suite invoked the Carlos Salzedo Chanson de la Nuit that Nicanor Zabaleta himself championed. Piazzolla, a student of Nadia Boulanger, found his “true voice” in the Argentine tango rhythm, which he soon adapted to his personal, jazzy vision in nuevo tango that no less embraces the canto]i] jondo[/i] of traditional Spanish music. The Suite presented us three well-defined movements, opening with Introduccion al Angel, with cadenzas supplied by Pablo Ziegler and Michael Touchi. The tango rhythm would vie with soli from the first violin, the musical haze assuming an ever increasing erotic component.
Conductor Ramadanoff kept a keen eye on both his ensemble and solo Mendieta in the course of the intricate proceedings, maintaining a tight leash on the exotic colors in which Piazzolla indulges. Milongra – Dance of the Wind – presented passing dissonances in the course of subtle, “sirocco” colorations. The last movement, Libertango, indeed proffered “free” dance impulses tinged by chromatics and polyphony, intricate and accented most vividly. Even one of the brass musicians from the Faure piece, here an audience member like the rest of us, commented to a fellow listener, “This piece is really something!”
Conductor Ramadanoff made smooth work of the Haydn “Miracle,” which he claimed as a misnomer for an incident that should rightly be ascribed to Symphony 102. With its wonderful (flute) colors and variants, its canny use of silences, the music – given the Ramadanoff penchant for all repeats – retained its humor, girth and schwung, the last that Viennese wit and elegance of character requisite to the style. Both rustic and genteel, the music held sway with vigorous charm and verve, often in anticipation of another rising talent, a certain musical hothead named Beethoven. ♫
Dr. Gary R. Lemco regularly contributes to the
pages of Classical Music Guide. He resides
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