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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

DSO presents impressive interpretation of classics

Under the baton of music director and conductor Anthony Princiotti, the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra presented an enjoyable rendition of three popular works from the standard orchestral repertoire to a full house.

Saturday evening's concert began with an appropriately simple performance of the overture to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." The tone of the upper strings was clear, their touch was light and the performance was an energetic one.

Perhaps too much so: Princiotti allowed the violin's momentum to take over, and by last section it had sped up considerably.

The Violin Concerto in G Minor, by German composer Max Bruch, is among the more popular orchestral compositions for the instrument.

Expressive melody takes precedence over virtuosic pyrotechnics, making the work both easily accessible for audiences and ideal material for young violinists.

Patrick Kwon '96's performance of the violin solo was admirable in its technical precision.

The rapid scales of the first movement were executed with agility and with mostly excellent intonation.

The more lyrical second movement was equally skillful, and the finale's fiery gypsy character was handled with aplomb, though as with the Mozart, this enthusiasm caused an inappropriate accell-erando that the rest of the orchestra was not always prepared to follow.

Throughout the course of the concerto, Kwon's technical mastery was beyond question.

Even so, because the work's narrative is not one of technical accomplishment, but rather of lyric emotion, one wished he would have explored a more expressive realm of playing, especially in the use of greater dynamic contrasts to shape melodic lines.

His level of playing is certainly high enough that he could afford the indulgence.

The program concluded with Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E minor. Composed in 1893, during his residency as musical director for the newly-created National Conservatory in New York City, the symphony is an interesting hybrid of the folk music of Dvorak's Bohemian background, his 'Germanic' compositional training and the sounds of indigenous American music to which he was exposed.

Although endless speculation has been made about the sources of his themes, the resulting synthesis of styles makes exact analysis irrelevant.

What may have begun as a Slavonic dance, an Appalachian melody or a Negro spiritual is transformed into characteristic Dvorak.

The symphony is deservedly popular -- its unabashed tunefulness is heightened by the musical unity of all its major themes.

These recurring melodies, which are creatively developed -- but never beyond immediate recognition -- clearly highlight the underlying musical structure for even the most inexperienced of listeners.

The orchestra played best in the "Allegro con fuoco," in which Dvorak manages to make thematic reference to all the preceding movements. The strings' articulation in the more rapid passages was exceptional, and the trumpets' tone was almost universally clean and ringing.

Princiotti held the scherzo together nicely with its blatant syncopation, and abrupt rhythmic and registral shifts.

The first two movements, however, were too frequently characterized by a disregard of dynamic markings and severe tuning problems in the winds, further complicated by a consistently diffuse sound from the horns.

Even so, the sublime English horn solo in the second movement, a model of sensitive and expressive phrasing, made one willing to forgive.

Tickets for the DSO concert were provided courtesy of the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts.