Sunday, October 16, 2011

'The Four Seasons' was wild and stunning

The audience as it eagerly awaited the performance "The Four Seasons" at the Lied Center
The audience as it eagerly awaited the performance "The Four Seasons" at the Lied Center
Amy Flamminio

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra wowed the audience again with their second concert of the season, The Four Seasons. As Conductor Edward Polochick explained to the audience, the idea for this evening’s performance came to him several years ago. At the time, Polochick conducted the premiere of César Olguin’s arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas. At last, for a Lincoln audience, Polochick’s inspiration came to life—a program featuring both Vivaldi’s and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons.

“Remember,” the Maestro told the audience, “we really have eight different seasons here because Piazzolla is writing about seasons in the southern hemisphere, and Vivaldi is writing from sunny Italy in the northern hemisphere.”
The Chiara String Quartet took the stage with a string orchestra and piano, and the beginning of Piazzolla opened with what could have been Vivaldi, but suddenly broke into tango rhythms. The audience couldn’t contain itself and broke into spontaneous applause after hearing “Summer.”

“Autumn” could be described as wild. That is, wild and fast, wild and dissonant, and wild and lonely during Jonah Sirota’s achingly beautiful viola solo during this piece. “Winter” had a beautiful and peaceful ending that could have left you wondering what century it was written in because of it’s timeless harmonies. Closing with “Spring,” LSO and the Chiara String Quartet played with unabated energy, wild southern springtime rhythms.

After Piazzolla, the audience was left wondering how Vivaldi’s Four Seasons could follow such a work. But as Rachel Barton Pine took the stage and described the story told by Vivaldi’s work, the audience were wrapped up in the music. Without ever mentioning a technical term, Pine described the motives, or musical ideas, that would be present in each movement. She described the trilling birds, flowing stream, and light thunderstorm in first movement of “Spring.” The second movement, she told the story of a napping shephered, “That’s me!” she grinned, and told how the violins are rustling leaves, the violas are a barking hound, what she declared was “Vivaldi’s version of an 18th century viola joke!” as the audience laughed.

Without throwing terms like “concerto grosso, ripieno, motives, or programmatic music,” Pine made Vivaldi’s music engaging for everyone, and her virtuosic performance was spectacular without drawing attention to itself. It may best be summed with her description of the first movement of “Autumn,” “I represent a particularly drunken guy, stumbling around, and basically making a fool of himself...” This comical account won the audience’s attention to the story told by the music, almost forgetting the brilliance and vivacity with which Pine’s violin played the virtuosic passages of the “drunken fool.”

Another wonderful part of the performance was Polochick at the harpsichord performing as harpsichordist and as conductor. Just to hear the harpsichord on stage gave a vital and delightful authenticity to the performance.

After a thoroughly engaging and flawless performance of the Four Seasons, Pine was called back on stage by a standing ovation and gave an encore from her latest CD. Fittingly, she chose to play Piazzolla’s Liberetude in closing, and give us a taste of the wild tango rhythms and an exciting finish to a stunning concert.

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