No caps and gowns were in sight in the Peristyle last night but the Toledo Symphony’s Classics IX concert was a worthy valediction for its 69th season. Delivered altogether with inspirational leadership from Principal Conductor Stefan Sanderling, the message was beguiling and powerful.
The surprise at the opening was the Haydn Overture to L’isola disabitate (desert isle). Given a lively and confident reading, it revealed the composer’s capabilities with dramatic moods and varied styles, something Haydn’s stock in trade orchestral works rarely suggest. It was a nice novelty — and a Toledo Symphony premiere — to launch a program of otherwise well-known works.
Familiar as the Mozart Concerto No. 24 in C minor is to most listeners, with guest soloist Cornelia Herrmann at the keyboard and Sanderling ready to collaborate, this musical journey was so very fine and full of pleasant surprises.
Herrmann performed as a true collaborator, weaving her part in and through the orchestra like a gifted embroiderer. Her playing is clean, true, unaffected, and authoritative, neither overly assertive nor coy. She blazed through the complex variations of the third movement with elan and clarity. Her choice of cadenzas by famed German composer Wilhelm Kempff were wise and enhanced the drama of Mozart’s intense and affecting work.
Still, the tune most would walk out humming came with the final number — truly a grand finale for this busy and gratifying Toledo Symphony season — Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Its innate magnificence was fully illuminated by the orchestra with a very animated Sanderling in charge. It was a fitting finale for this event honoring Edward H. Schmidt.
Tchaikovsky is in the all-time pantheon of orchestrators, those who know how to work each instrument for the fullest and most memorable effect. Sanderling called for both subtlety and emotion and the players delivered, from the ardent first movement in which that E minor mojo generated both foreboding and potential triumph, through the melancholy second, to the final crashing chords of the finale.
In between was solid ensemble drama from the strings, brilliance from solo winds, and soul-liberating walls of sound from the brass. Bravo to hornist Sandra Clark, bassoonist Gareth Thomas, clarinetist Georg Klaas, and oboist Kimberly Loch.
And to the entire orchestra and Sanderling, thanks for a spirited and enlightening season. Now it’s on to Season 70.
The concert will repeat at 8 p.m. today. Tickets are $22-55 at 419-246-8000 or www.toledosymphony.com.
Contact Sally Vallongo at: firstname.lastname@example.org