Tuesday, Dec 06, 2016
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Review: Powerful solos drive wondrous Beethoven

guest-clarinetist-David-Shifrin

Guest clarinetist David Shifrin delighted audience members during the Toledo Symphony's classic series.

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The first of the Toledo Symphony Classics VI concerts in the Peristyle Friday night went airborne in many wonderful ways.

Not only was there a delightful emphasis on wind instruments — flute, piccolo, and clarinet — in the first half, but the concluding work, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, led by principal conductor Stefan Sanderling, lifted off and sailed heavenward in a trajectory marked by wonderful discoveries about this beloved classic.

Special and most welcome guest David Shifrin showed once again that every work for the clarinet has a story, one he can tell with supreme ease, humor, and brilliance. Soloing with the orchestra and Sanderling in Carl Maria von Weber's second clarinet concerto, Shifrin began his musical tale with confidence and artistry.

Before his solo, he took the second part in Ponchielli's operatic Divertimento for Two Clarinets and Strings, letting the TSO's own fine principal, Georg Klaas, carry the lead in this charming musical conversation.

Joel Tse, the orchestra's very accomplished principal flutist, was in the spotlight for the program opener, the symphony's first performance of "Flute Moon," a musical hybrid by Bright Sheng, one of today's top "crossover" composers — those who merge their native Chinese heritage and musical tradition with Western style music.

Before embarking on the Beethoven, Sanderling recalled his arrival in Toledo for the first time, a decade ago. "Today, it feels like coming home," he said.

His feelings were communicated powerfully in one of the most personal and dynamic performances of the Beethoven 7th I have ever heard. Worthy of note for consistently fine solos were flutist Tse, clarinetist Jocelyn Langworthy, and Sandra Clark and her horn section.

It was an "aha" moment for this venerable ensemble and its gifted music director.

The concert was presented in memory of Edward H. Schmidt.

The program will repeat at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Peristyle. Tickets are $20-50 at 419-246-8000 or toledosymphony.com, with student rush tickets for $5 one hour before performance.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com

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