Fifth audition results in strong performances
The search for the new Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony continued with the fifth and final concert. On Sunday, May 24, at the Mello Center, “local” hopeful Rebecca Miller took to the podium. The concert began with Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta (1933) and followed with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73 “Emperor” (1809) with Hans Boepple, soloist. The concert concluded with Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 in D-Major, Op. 60 (1880).
The Kodaly work is a lesser known composition, but interesting in its incorporation of Hungarian folk music. Of all the talented orchestra musicians, several have had the opportunity to show their wonderful artistry. On this note Susan Vollmer French Horn, Laurie Camphouse flute and Karen Sremac clarinet along with other members of the orchestra were outstanding! Some of the energetic Gypsy influenced moments convinced us that we should hear this work again.
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 was the sought after high point of the concert and the audience received the musical treat they came to hear. Actually Beethoven’s fifth and last Piano Concerto composed between 1808-1810, is his sixth work in the concerto form, if his earlier concerto, also in E flat major of 1784 is considered his first. Piano Concerto No. 5, the “Emperor,” was not intended to be Beethoven’s last concerto as his broad scale sketch of a Piano Concerto in D Major testifies.
Maestro Hans Boepple is a well-known, highly respected pianist and Master Teacher. He performed with great poise and thorough understanding of all the musical ideas and demands Beethoven built into this highly celebrated work. I cannot recall this concerto or any other by Beethoven that was performed and conducted by the soloist from the keyboard.
Maestro Boepple was completely involved with the work including slightly cueing (almost invisibly) many orchestral entrances with his hand. In the second Adagio un poco mosso, Boepple demonstrated that delicate, sensitive playing speaks more than loudness to the point that there is as much music in the silences as in the notes. The well-known third movement Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo was again most beautifully performed.
The Dvorak Symphony No. 6 served as the last work of the afternoon. Several seasons ago then Director John Larry Granger provided Santa Cruz Symphony audiences with many of Dvorak’s symphonies.
Rebecca Miller’s conducting performance left the large audience with mixed feelings. Ms. Miller’s overabundance of choreographed gesturing, jumping up and down, gyrating and at times waving above her head as to hail a cab distracted immensely from her musical intention.
After having been asked my opinion by many subscribers of the quality of the five conductors presented, I decided to take a mini “exit poll” to get the opinion of subscribers well as orchestra members. Not to my surprise, I soon found the overwhelming number Symphony supporters by far favored the excellent impression the charismatic Daniel Stewart and highly talented Diane Wittry made with the orchestra members and the public! These two Directors centered their attention on bringing forth the very best musicianship and artistry this fine orchestra has to offer and in the words of orchestra supporters: “The Santa Cruz County Symphony never sounded better”!