Guitarist, orchestra delight BSO audience

Reviewed by Win Pusey

Special to The Ellsworth American

ORONO — Maestro Lucas Richman led the Bangor Symphony Orchestra into its 119th season and his fifth as its music director on Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts.

It was an affectionate reunion between conductor, musicians and audience. Many loyal concertgoers were there to support, cheer and be entertained by this well-loved symphony. They weren’t disappointed.

As Richman described, the program was distinctly Spanish in flavor albeit some of the composers hailed from Europe. In fact, because of the many short movements played, it could have been called musical tapas.

The centerpiece of the afternoon, Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” for guitar and orchestra, starred a stunning young soloist, Ana Vidovic, a Croatian by birth but a universal artist by nature. She has played this three-movement concerto since childhood and it was quite apparent in her intimate and impeccable style.

The first simple chords were the spellbinders, followed by subtle triple/duple meters that simply sang “Spain.”

Vidovic then addessed the iconic Adagio, with its haunting whole tone auxiliary notes, giving it a lovely grace amid daunting riffs. Laura Estey, English horn, was particularly effective in that movement. The finale, Allegro gentille, was just that, more classical in form and virtuosic in design. Vidovic was magnificent and the orchestra took her lead throughout.

The wannabe Spaniards who, in the 19th century, were captivated by the Iberian culture included Emmanuel Chabrier and Georges Bizet from France and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov from Russia. They gobbled it up musically, Bizet, of course, giving us “Carmen” before he died at 37. Maestro Richman chose his “Carmen Suite No. 1” and gave it the works, each of the familiar five sections being better than the last. By the time the orchestra got to the Toreador theme, people were swaying in their seats.

Chabrier, it is said, wrote “Espana” to get people’s attention. It did. It would have made a good overture to the concert instead of de Falla’s “Three Cornered Hat,” which needed more work.

The final piece, Rimsky-Korsakov’s five-movement “Capriccio Espagnol,” which sounds like “Scheherazade” in Spanish, has every intention of putting springs in the audience seats. It did. The standing ovation recognized the Maestro, the music and the musicians, especially the brass and woodwind choirs and soloists, including Trond Saeverud, concertmaster, Jonathan Laperle, flute, Louie Hall, oboe, Kristen Finkbeiner and Glen Sargent, clarinet, Wren Saunders and Lynn Flagg, bassoon.

Richman himself was accorded the rare gesture of musicians’ feet stomping for his performance. Good start.