Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Symphony astounds with untraditional show

The Toledo Symphony wowed a big Peristyle audience Friday night in its third Classics series concert by going way off the traditional philharmonic playbook.

The orchestra’s program, Four Seasons with a Twist, was the vibrant result of brilliant planning, exquisite music-making, and the irresistible drama of tango.

It’s sure to be the talk around town for a long time, a highlight of the whole season, and, we can hope, inspiration for more innovation by a group that already has shown a willingness to commit to and execute artistic risks.

This program sounded simple on paper: Chart a musical course to tack between sections of Antonio Vivaldi’s beloved Four Seasons and Astor Piazzolla’s tribute work, The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Spring would give way to Summer which would, in due course, segue to Autumn, and so on.

It’s the arrangement originally concocted by Latvian violin phenom Gidon Kremer, a Four Seasons fan (and really, who isn’t?). He laid the groundwork for Friday night by commissioning composer/​friend Leonid Desyatnikov to adapt Argentinian tango king Piazzolla’s original four works for string orchestra. Then, layering movements from both pieces like a huge musical sandwich, he performed and recorded the result in 2000.

The symphony has performed both works, but, until Friday night, not in the same concert.

|The musical season changes came wonderfully alive, with Concertmaster Kirk Toth and principal second violin Merwin Siu trading solo spots, playing Vivaldi one time, Piazzolla another, also conducting an elite group of strings plus harpsichordist Valrie Kantorski.

One of the most intriguing elements was that each soloist remained true to his style, offering, in the contrast, even more excitement.

Toth, a tried-and-true master of his instrument, went for tradition, restraint, a collegial approach. Siu, the strings’ showman, who had a big hand in planning this program, let it rip. He ornamented Vivaldi’s slow middle movements, then tore breakneck through the prestos and allegros, seeming to challenge his fellow players to keep up.

The good news is, they always did.

In case you have missed it, the Toledo Symphony is a damn fine orchestra.

Then came the dancers, so sleek and stylized, swiveling and clinching through Argentina’s national dance, an old tradition deeply infused with seduction, power, and danger.

Bravo to Gil Aromas, Jacki and Erin Myrice, Nicole Nieves, and David McVicker, from the Ballroom Company, for total professionalism and astonishing grace and skill.

This was a concert to be remembered, one with seasons for all men (and women), and another reminder that, in a city that often seems to have a self-esteem deficit, the Toledo Symphony is forging ahead and making a name for itself, here and abroad.

And, just for grins, Friday night’s program reminds that as winter rolls inexorably onward in this hemisphere, in Buenos Aires, summer is a-comin’ in. And so it will here, before long.

The concert will repeat at 8 p.m. today in the Peristyle. Tickets are $22-$55 at or 419-246-8000.

Contact Sally Vallongo at:

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