In the period allotted here on the Hill as a respite from that sort of winter weather bordering on the unbearable, there are still advantages to be given and taken in return.
Such an opportunity arises with the Idyllwild Arts Academy's annual winter concert offering, as is usually scheduled prior to or during the holiday season. Once more, the forces came together in as proper a format as possible outlined by Conductor Gregory Robbins.
At the beginning of the proceedings was to be a formal presentation of particular orchestral sound potential, exercising the different timbres involved in each of the three pieces, with a consequent reflection on the human element (not necessarily the vocal portion) employed.
Starting with the initial giving forth of Mozart's "Magic Flute" overture, Robbins effected a superb contrasting of string sound with the augmented brass section's playing. This listener was somewhat overwhelmed by the chordal structure evinced by the four horns, and the positioning of the brass at the rear did not interfere with any overall presentation, at least to those audience members positioned in the auditorium's central "sweet spot.”
Soloist Jason Haozheng Sun's traversal of the Lalo Cello Concerto's first movement was a natural transition with the cello sound itself presenting an almost vocal evocation, especially in the movement's magisterial moments. Sun displayed an intensity rarely seen in this work's execution. The notes were also correctly in place and with Robbins' admirable facility of accompaniment, received equally admirable accolades.
However, the evening's proceedings came to the fullest fruition with the playing of the five-movement Third Symphony of Robert Schumann — the conductor recusing himself (in part) for his choice of one of his favorite orchestral works. The symphony itself — a reflection of one of the happier periods in the composer's life, as well as an evocation of the Rhineland — needs to be presented as more than mere "tone-painting" in widest scope available, and once more, the orchestra's forces had to ride the vicissitudinous waves (of the Rhine, of course) with which Schumann infused all five of the movements. Taking as an example the two lively outer movements effectively presented the composer's confidence as well as joy (with the key of E flat being the principal component), while the fourth in the sequence projected the proper ceremonial solemnity even as it passed through certain difficult aural "waves" (E flat minor, G minor, B major, etc).
In summation, a nearly flawless performance effected throughout, projecting to the community that particular sense of confidence needed at this "most wonderful time of the year." This reporter wishes to convey the same spirit in this review, even as he exited William M. Lowman Concert Hall with: "Don't worry, folks — we'll make it through this autumn if it takes all winter."
Overture: The Magic Flute, K. 620 (1791) / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Concerto for Cello & Orchestra in D Minor, Opus 16 (1876-77) / Edouard Lalo
Symphony #3 in E Flat Major, Opus 97, "Rhenish" (1850) / Robert Schumann