Youth orchestra defies ice, performs commendably

January 28, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

As winter's residue wreaked havoc on organizational schedules across Maryland last week, the Chesapeake Youth Symphony bucked the trend and refused to cancel.

The CYSO spent six grueling hours rehearsing early in the day before presenting its winter concert as scheduled Saturday evening at Key Auditorium on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis.

The 63 young musicians and their conductor, Arne Running, are to be commended. Despite the day's marathon, the troops had enough energy and chops left to put across a demanding program of Glinka's Overture to "Russlan and Ludmilla", Mozart's G major Piano Concerto, K.453, and the "New World" Symphony of Dvorak to a capacity audience.

Particularly impressive were the final three movements of the "New World." All sorts of spellbinding things happened in the famous "Largo," as a hushed accompaniment was furnished for the famous English horn solo. Not surprisingly, an adult ringer was brought in to play the "Going Home" melody. How many teen-agers do you know who play the English horn?

The "Scherzo" was every bit the molto vivace Dvorak asks for, and the brass took over most impressively in the finale. Principal clarinetist Ellie Stewart also is to be commended for her sensitive handling of the lyrical solo in that movement.

But the youngsters might want to reflect a bit on their performance in the opening Allegro, which was tentative and sloppy, not nearly as "on" as the other three movements, despite Mr. Running's energetic imprecations for greater precision and force.

When intermission is over, musicians should come back ready, focused and primed for the task at hand. There's no time to settle in gradually. Dvorak and the audience deserve the best from the get-go.

I applaud the young ladies who won the orchestra's piano competition and gave their all in the Mozart Concerto. But I wonder if a polished, sparkling K.453 wasn't a bit too much to ask of this orchestra and three teen-aged soloists.

Perhaps in the future a Mozart K.382 "Rondo" could be offered by a single prize-winning pianist. If other instruments are allowed in the competition, the orchestra could program a Telemann or Vivaldi concerto for fiddle, cello or flute.

With the CYSO's principal brass players, a Mozart horn concerto or work for solo trumpet isn't out of the question, either.

The pianists did well, but when so much performance energy is devoted simply to not falling apart, the music isn't going to take flight.

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