5.05.2009

Austin Symphony / Sarah Chang : 3 of 5

I don't think I ever realized the importance of a symphonic program as a whole until I experienced the Austin Symphony's latest concert, which featured three works that were individually OK, but became kind of a disjointed mess when put together. I think this was probably just a case of bad timing, since the first work was a modern symphony written as a gift for Maestro Peter Bay's 10th anniversary with the symphony, and Sarah Chang was probably scheduled to appear way in advance, so there was only room to throw in some quick Tchaikovsky to fill out the evening. Unfortunately, each work was a little disappointing, starting with the world premiere of Welcher's Symphony No. 5, which should be called the "use every crazy percussion instrument you can find" symphony. It was almost laughable to see the four percussionists constantly switching between everything from bongos to bowed cymbals, and truthfully it was a bit trying to listen to the whole thing (although I did enjoy many of the musical themes). It was really nice to see Sarah Chang perform, since she is such a renown violinist, but her stage presence was a little less refined than I had hoped (I liked the passion behind her walking around the stage, but her uncontrollable bow flourish got old quickly). Of course, she was technically magnificent, and I would definitely enjoying hearing more of her playing on CD! Finally, Tchaikovsky's Capiccio Italien is like a musical cartoon, which is wonderful on it's own, but was simply bizarre sounding after the first two works of the evening. My pals Matt & Kumiko and I still had a wonderful time at the symphony, but we all agreed that this strange program left us hoping for some better choices next time.

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