Monday, October 23, 2006

5 Things about the Curtis Symphony Orchestra

And soloist Hilary Hahn, Sunday night at the Kimmel Center:
1. The concert was spectacular with a charming rendition of the Star Spangle Banner - why can't other orchestras bring something this original and thoughtful out, instead of the same old bland version?
2. Overheard at intermission: "Oh I just love this so much more than the Symphony." I knew what they meant (in many ways - but she meant compared to the Philadelphia Orchestra), but I also thought, okay this is a stereotypical program of overture, concerto (with superstar) and symphony - what is so different about that?!
3. *Hilary Hahn was gorgeous in a gold dress and maroon lace.* (Sorry, had to parody the typical classical reviewers and say what she wore!) Seriously, her playing was just like every other performance I've heard her in: perfect. This time, the Curtis Orchestra allowed her lots of freedom and never covered her playing, despite big brass and percussion in the orchestration. From the excitement of her double stops and the brilliance of the high passages, the Britten Concerto made the program well worth the trip to Philly (you could actually get $5 tickets - so I won't say it was well worth the ticket, rather it was a bargain!)
4. Otto Werner Muller kept the pace with the Prokofiev (Symphony #5) and began the second movement almost attaca, maybe a second in between letting the reverberation settle and then onwards! For an eighty-year-old, he kept the students and audience in firm control. I was also reminded how much I adore Prokofiev's writing for the violin, there are passages of this very high harmonies that are similiar to the Romeo & Juliet music in the 3rd movement. The Curtis Orchestra's first violins were excellent.
5. The cynic in me asked what benefits does H.H. signing autographs and selling cds after every performance - in some ways, okay, most ways, it's great...part of me says is this just marketing? I mean does it really impact if people come to a concert? I hope it does - and kudos for her to wait around after performances to do that. Also, how mondo cool for her to play part of an Ysaye sonata (second movement of #2, with a quote of Dies Irae!) as an encore!

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