It is hard to believe when a virtuoso makes a world debut at 8 years of age that almost 30 years later they still have the ability to bring new life, light, and enchantment to yet another audience. That Sarah Chang still has “the gift” was readily apparent in last evening’s Toledo Symphony Classics Concert.
On the platform Maestro Giordano Bellincampi leads from the heart, and clearly the symphony members find in his passion verisimilitude.
They responded to his direction with nuance, sensitivity, and a willingness to take artistic risks. Clearly he has become one of their favorite guest conductors.
The program opened with Stravinsky’s complexly intricate ballet suite Pulcinella based on melodies by Pergolesi (and others). The chamberlike score received a clean performance from a reduced ensemble of Symphony players. From a slightly timid beginning it moved forward to dance with a terpsichorean lightness that belied the underlying difficulty of the score.
Chang joined the ensemble for an impassioned rendition of Tomaso Antonio Vitali’s “Chaconne.” The performance was riveting, demonstrating both her technical prowess and her clear understanding of line, movement, and energy. The work was exquisitely sculpted into an ever-growing effulgence that crept steadily forward toward a transfixing conclusion.
Gershwin’s perennial favorite, “An American in Paris,” opened the second half. Jazz, auto horns, blues, and swing rocked the Peristyle as Bellincampi encouraged the orchestra to boldly take risk after musical risk in his raucous, yet artfully crafted journey into post-WWI France. The work was a brilliant counterpoint to the artistically pensive first half.
Finally Chang returned for what proved to be the audience’s favorite work of evening, David Newman’s arrangement of music from Leonard Bernstein’s beloved musical West Side Story. The work is a pastiche of all the familiar tunes, allowing Chang to explore the gamut of her stylistic vocabulary from percussive Mambo riffs through the soaring romantic lines of “Maria” and beyond. The audience’s standing ovation was a clear testament to her continued reign as one of the world’s pre-eminent violinists.
The program will be repeated 8 p.m. today in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo.
Tickets and more information 419-246-8000 or toledosymphony.com.
Contact Wayne F. Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org.