REVIEW: Excitement on par with a Hitchcock mystery

Jan. 14, 2013 @ 06:17 PM

Wow! Without a doubt, Richard Rosenberg has pushed his young group of musicians to the hilt and perhaps even beyond.

The Union Symphony Orchestra performance Sunday afternoon at the Batte Center at Wingate University was tension filled.

Billed as a concert that would be “Bursting into Song”, I would disagree it was that lyrical. One could, however, imagine ballet dancers milling around. The syncopation, rhythm and climactic buildup created an excitement on par with the best Alfred Hitchcock mystery.

The opening work, Igor Stravinsky’s symphonic poem The Song of the Nightingale, was marked with oriental harmonies and clear precision by the orchestra. The repetition and robotic song of a mechanical nightingale was mesmerizing.

As was demonstrated throughout this performance, the Raymond Scott vignettes, Stravinsky’s Berceuse and Finale from the Firebird, and concluding with Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, the orchestra displayed a mastery of crescendos and climactic conclusions.

Rosenberg has made good use of what he has at hand. The skill of the musicians may not be on par with the New York Philharmonic or the Berlin Philharmonic; the strings in tutti may not be as lush or as rich in tonal sonority, but what Rosenberg has corralled is an attention to detail, the captivating shaping of individual phrases and a keen awareness of the desires of the director.

Scott’s vignettes, orchestrated by Rosenberg, were dismissed by critics of the time as “screwy, kittenish pseudo-jazz.” And while there was little to debunk that less than flattering description, it was nonetheless light-hearted and entertaining.

After the intermission, Stravinsky’s Berceuse and Finale from the ballet suite was performed. It was executed in fine fashion  arousing all of the music’s magical intentions.

The Capriccio Italien, which closed the afternoon concert, was a solid performance of a popular and often heard and recorded work.