Orchestral Music Review

A Colorful Student Orchestra Concert at the EMF

July 14, 2005 - Greensboro, NC:

There was no lack of enthusiasm in the large student orchestra on stage July 14 in Dana Auditorium. Conductor Scott Sandmeier had prepared the scores carefully and led interpretations that were well within the traditional.

The Overture to Leonard Bernstein's Candide has become the most popular curtain-raiser ever written by an American composer. It is based on two of the best songs from the operetta, the duet between Candide and Cunegonde about their expected marital joys, and the great showpiece "Glitter and Be Gay." Sandmeier brought out the work's impudence in spades, in a very bright sounding performance. Attacks were alert, and the crucial sassy piccolo, brass, and percussion parts were played to the hilt. There was no sentimental lingering with the slow and melancholy portion, the "Glitter and Be Gay" theme.

The finest performance of the evening was accorded Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G. Faculty pianist James Giles brought out the full range of color and elegance in the solo part, and Sandmeier tightly controlled the balances and precise entrances of the accompaniment so it fit like a fine lace glove. Full rein was given to the blues and jazz-like elements.

A few rough edges aside, the performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73, was a good, solid, standard reading. There was no want of raw enthusiasm from the musicians. The string sections' unified playing resulted in a fine sheen. There was lots of dark resonance as the ten cellos basked in their glowing section solo in the second movement. The woodwinds and brass played with great assurance, and there was particularly polished playing from the solo oboe and horn.

For a list of the EMF's concerts, click here [inactive 11/05].