Saturday, July 14, 2012

Orchestra on the rise

There's a great saying about the sum being more than its parts - which isn't necessarily true for all orchestras, but add the new Artist Director Alondra de la Parra to the Orquesta Filarmonica de Jalisco and not only do things multiply exponentially, they electrify!
I heard the Programa 6 on Friday, July 13 in the beautiful Teatro Degollado. Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya opened the all orchestra program. This work can be terrifying and hypontic, and the OFJ was up to the task. It's colorful and inventive, I don't know why it doesn't appear on more programs than it does...kudos to Tomas Rosaleny who nailed the tuba solo and the excellent work of the percussion section which was crisp.
Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty was next on the sold out program (yes, three days before the show, you could not find tickets!) There may not be anything more beautiful than de la Parra on the podium - it is quite poetic that this young leader gives her orchestra just what they need in terms of rhythm, and at the very same time, gives the audience a breathtaking show. For Tchaikovsky's five movement suite, it ran the gamut of toe tapping waltzes to introspective scenes, best heard in the popular Valse of Act I.
Alondra de la Parra in Shostakovich

After a short intermission, the program finished with Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony - one of the all time dramatic and wellcrafted orchestra works, playing with two notes, "bah bum" and the reverse "bum bah" through all four movements. Perhaps Friday the 13th struck some in this performance, with a complete left field solo from the principal horn that was clearly off (which had not improved from the open rehearsal in the morning, sad.) and a flying baton from de la Parra that landed in the violas (I've seen that happen lots to conductors, but never have I seen them have a backup baton - she did, and continued without a blink!) Other than that, Shostakovich would have rejoiced in brisk tempos, fiery lines and geniune excitement of this performance. Especially touching were solos from concertmaster Bryan Lee, harpist Guadalupe Perez, and the keyboardist playing piano and celesta (not named in the program, but she was spot on!) There was also delightful, bone chilling percussion work from the xylophone (so many great repeated notes right along with the violins and flutes) as well as the stunning finale with timpani and bass drum in perfect sync with de la Parra (in rehearsal it was equally exciting to see this be put together!)
The audience was on its feet and after solo bows, de la Parra was presented flowers and as orchestras can do, refused to stand when Alondra motioned, allowing their Artistic Director warm applause from the audience and them.
I cannot express enough how delightful this concert was, and what music making was shared. World class hall, check. Out of this world conductor, check. Orchestra willing to work, check. Excited audience, check. This is the recipe for great entertainment and success for the OFJ and Guadalajara.
This program repeats Sunday afternoon at 12:30, and was reported sold out, but I would check at the box office for any cancellations, and be sure to get season tickets for the next concerts at

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