Guest director brings enthusiastic delivery in excellent collaboration
By Peter Jacobi | Herald Times Reviewer | firstname.lastname@example.org |
The newly named distinguished professor was there Sunday afternoon in Auer Hall. The Baroque Orchestra’s regular director was there, on this occasion not to direct but only to listen.
Still, one knew that emotionally he was on that stage, where so often he has led the Baroque Orchestra, which is his performing baby and has been for a long, long time. He took no bows for the recent academic recognition or for the quality of the orchestra’s performance, even though that ensemble is still his and will be, one hopes, for years to come.
Stanley Ritchie wanted the audience to focus on the woman fiddler and leader taking his place, she a distinguished guest, stopping by for a few days. Having arrived, as per usual, a half hour before the concert’s start, I was able to watch Elizabeth Wallfisch rehearse the orchestra almost up to the two o’clock beginning. There were little adjustments she obviously felt needed attention or reinforcement or refinement. One could see how carefully she must have prepared the orchestra earlier on. She wanted to make sure her recommendations in rehearsals had been deeply enough learned, in a last moment effort to ready the musicians, so to satisfy the audience and one particular member in it.
Ritchie must have been satisfied because the ensemble performed in fine fashion, responding to their guest leader’s ministrations. Without baton but with the bow of a violin, she gave clear and knowing signals as they performed an Overture-Suite in G Minor by Johann Joseph Fux, a Baroque period Austrian organist, theorist, pedagogue and composer, and works by two more famous musicians from the same period, the Italian Antonio Vivaldi, Concerto in F Major for Two Horns, Strings, and Continuo, and the German Georg Philipp Telemann, his Overture-Suite in D Major.
The Fux, definitely a product of its period, was well defined under the Wallfisch leadership, with speeds that furthered an atmosphere of comfort and intimate charm. Here was modest music not designed to steal attention but simply to let listeners enjoy in comfort. The musicians treated it so.
The Vivaldi concerto differed greatly. Its success depended largely on the two natural horn soloists: Nathanael Udell and Burke Anderson. They went all out to provide the audience with blares and bellows and bleats as fortissimo as possible, creating a lively explosion of sounds on instruments held high. Played to the extreme, the concerto was delicious fun to hear.
For the program’s final number, the Telemann Overture-Suite, violinist Wallfisch took the solo spotlight. Not that she gave up her leadership duties, but she fiddled with focused gusto a composition bearing lovely music and, in a Caprice, an amusing and catchy melody.one could almost hum leaving the theater. Wallfisch’s craftsmanship was outstanding; her enthusiastic delivery proved how much she cared about the music and her audience. The orchestra’s collaboration was excellent, smooth and supportive.