Sunday, May 8, 2016

concert review: Symphony Silicon Valley

I was originally slated to review this. That got cancelled, for reasons to be revealed later, but I couldn't resist going anyway: Gregory Vajda was conducting a program of some of the juiciest 20C classics.

An overture by Martinů from the 1950s lacked the characteristic crunchiness of his 1940s masterpieces, but was so fervently neo-baroque that, had I heard it with no name attached, I would still have said, "One of only two composers could have written this: either Martinů or Bloch." It got tepid applause.

Prokofiev's Love of 3 Oranges Suite went better, and his Third Piano Concerto zipped by like a fast sports car to thunderous appreciation. Despite the speed, despite the extreme angularity of the music, and also despite her being clad entirely in glistening red sequins, soloist Natasha Paremski is a pianist of refined, graceful fluidity rather than fire; Argerich she ain't. And she proved this with her encore, a quiet, flowing bit of Chopin.

Vajda laid out Janáček's Sinfonietta in a conventional manner, not putting the brass up in the balcony like MTT did, or anything like that. It was a decent enough performance, but with enough bobbles that I was really sorry for the absence of principal horn Meredith Brown, who could have imposed some much-needed discipline on her section. Concertmaster Robin Mayforth was out too, but I know what she was doing, because I'd heard her doing it the previous evening. (Did I say "reasons to be revealed later"?)

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