Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017
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Toledo Symphony delivers another crowd-pleaser with passion, color

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Guest conductor Rune Bergmann led a passionately colorful program.

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Last evening, the Toledo Symphony hit the ball out of the park with yet another stellar performance. On the podium, guest conductor Norwegian Rune Bergmann led a passionately colorful program which could be said to be nothing but a complete crowd-pleaser.

Once again, the programming was textbook classic, an overture, a concerto, and a symphony: Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, Brahm’s Violin Concerto, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (”The New World”). With such a batting line-up, how could the evening be less than a complete success?

The Mozart burbled with a precise, energetic enthusiasm — classical perfection; Bergmann’s interpretation poignant, succinct, and executed with an orchestral elan that was all that could be asked.

Rachel Barton Pine as soloist in the Brahms played breathtakingly: flawless technique, quintessential musicianship, and a sound the size of Manhattan. She plays on a rare vintage instrument from the Cremona School; the very violin Brahms chose for the work’s premiere. She handled the beast with a command that has earned her a well-deserved place among the great violinists of our time.

Her interpretation masterfully captured Brahms’ romantic unrest. From the seething drama of the first movement, to the singing pathos of the second, and on to the rhythmic peasant kick of the third, the entire concerto unfolded in a stream of artistically honest musical perfection.

She encored with a subtly stunning rendition of the spiritual “Deep River.”

Following intermission, the orchestra undertook the Dvořák. Bergmann wended his way through the score with a clearly defined musical direction. The symphony responded in-kind with energy, color, sensitivity, and ebullience, obviously enjoying the very act of re-creating the masterwork.

Special mention needs to be made of oboist Kimberly Loch’s sensitive solo in the Brahms and Michele Smith’s angelic rendering of Dvořák’s English horn solo.

With so much beautiful music being made, it does, however, raise a difficult question. This is the third concert this season with exactly the same textbook format — a guarantee for success for the ensemble and the audience. But where is the challenge, the breaking of the mold for the listener that brings aesthetic growth and encourages artistic sophistication?

The unfolding of the rest of the season will tell.

The concert will be repeated 8 p.m. Saturday 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 classics@theblade.com.

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