ORONO — The Bangor Symphony Orchestra presented its fourth concert of the season on Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts. Conducted by the fourth music director finalist, Michael Butterman, the program, romantically titled “April in Paris,” was a blockbuster, guaranteed to please and impress the audience
Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria” was the afternoon’s centerpiece, sung by the University of Maine Oratorio Society and the University of Maine Singers. As always, Ludlow Hallman and Dennis Cox did a great job of preparation. The six short movements of the “Gloria” reflect musical influences of mid-20th century jazz as well as the serenity of the Roman liturgy. Suzanne Nance was most effective as the soprano soloist, particularly in the quixotic “Domine Deus” and the final “Qui sedes.” The piece itself, a favorite of good choirs from the boonies to the big city, is really sacred music’s answer to Carl Orff’s sexy “Carmina Burana.” The orchestra had a good time with the syncopation but could have done more with the opening salvo of chords.
The Poulenc was mandated by the orchestra for this concert, but the remaining two compositions, Symphony No. 31 in D Major, K.297 (Paris) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Camille Saint-Saens’ notable Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 (Organ), were chosen by Butterman. The Mozart was a fine pick as an opener but a difficult one for the strings, given the limited rehearsal time the orchestra presently has. There are exposed spots in each movement. They sounded more like falling off a cliff than playful tweaks in the score which, as Butterman pointed out in the pre-concert talk, Mozart obviously intended. There was also a difference in the acoustics of the hall with the orchestra far forward to accommodate the singers. Once the strings are seated forward of the proscenium arch, resonance seems to be lost, except for the tympani, which then overbalanced the ensemble.
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