Reviewed by Marcia Gronewold Sly
Special to The Ellsworth American
ORONO — To presented last Friday’s Masterworks IV concert, “Mozart & Schubert,” Bangor Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor Lucas Richman made the most of a reduced orchestra and fit together three works that share similar instrumentation. The online concert also included the little-known composer, Marianna Martines’s Sinfonia in C Major. In his pre-concert talk, Maestro Richman expressed his delight at discovering the piece. Featuring Martines, he noted, advances the symphony’s goal of programming works by composers, including women, who are under-represented in Western classical music. Scored for strings, flute, oboes, French horns, and harpsichord, the Austrian composer’s Sinfonia is a charming piece in three movements.
In Friday’s Masterworks IV concert, Richman leads a good-natured performance, the lively first and third movements bracketing the lyrical middle movement.
Jennifer Frautschi, the soloist for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major, tells concert-goers that one of the reasons this concerto is less often performed has to do with the key signature, which is rather awkward for the violin. In her performance, there is no hint of awkwardness. She sails confidently through arpeggios and passagework in the opening movement, caresses the poignant, lyrical lines in the middle adagio, and tosses off virtuosic passages in the Presto finale. It is customary for violinists to play their own cadenzas; Frautschi says that hers are taken from various sources, including her teacher, the Mozart scholar Robert Levin. It’s in the cadenzas (where the orchestra is tacet) that she is most expressive. Throughout the performance, the orchestra becomes a sympathetic partner, supporting and joining in nice interplay with the soloist.
Schubert wrote his Fifth Symphony, also in B-flat Major, when he was just 19 years old and strongly influenced by the music of Mozart. Both composers — in fact, all three highlighted at this concert — wrote many works for the voice, which is evident in this symphony through the role that melody plays. There are no trumpets, percussion, or clarinets in the score. Taking advantage of this lighter instrumentation, the BSO strings join with the woodwinds to produce an effervescent introductory movement. The second movement centers on a poignant theme shared by the strings and woodwinds, answering and echoing each other in an elegant performance. The conversational spirit continues in the third movement — a real feat, considering that the strings and wind instruments are separated by plexiglass erected as a safeguard against virus transmission, which must make it difficult for the sections to hear each other. The concert ends with a cheerful Allegro vivace.
The “Mozart & Schubert” concert was released on May 14 and is for available for 30 days at bangorsymphony.org. While you’re there, check out the “Resources” tab for the pre-concert talk and other extras.