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14-year-old shines with FV Symphony

Jan. 23, 2016

An evening of intriguing music awaited those who attended Saturday’s performance by the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to his opera, “Der Freischütz,” was the first piece on the program. Dark and brooding opening measures were lit up beautiful horn calls, expertly played by the orchestra’s horn section. This gave way to tuneful moments of lightness and dance, making for a lovely beginning to the concert.

It would not be surprising to attend an orchestral concert and find the Violin Concerto in D Major by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky on the program. What would be surprising, however, is to learn that the soloist is but a mere 14 years of age, and more than capable of meeting the daunting task of performing this magnum opus.

Violinist Masha Lakisova dazzled the audience with her youthful, and unquestionably musical, performance. Her stage persona was one of great confidence, as though the music was hers to play. And play it she did.

I was particularly taken with Ms. Lakisova’s facile bowing technique, bringing out sparkling staccato passages, and glistening harmonics, and most importantly, rich and evenly balanced multiple stops. Her splendid performance of the first movement’s cadenza displayed musical interpretation well beyond her years.

The second movement, Canzonetta: Andante, was played with much color and passion. Her instrument spoke well, and with much richness, in its lower tones.

Speed is the key word in defining the Finale: Allegro vivacissimo. Lakisova straightforwardly faced the challenges of this movement and never looked back. Her playing was driven and fearless, at times challenging the orchestra to keep up with her. Again, her accomplished bowing technique came to the fore and paved the way for her masterful rendering of this brilliant finale.

During intermission, the winner of this year’s Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestras ensemble competition, a saxophone trio, was introduced to the audience, and performed their competition piece. The music played was a trio originally written for oboes by Beethoven, and later transcribed for soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. As always, it is good to hear the future of our music community in performance. Congratulations to all who participated.

Symphony No. 8 in G Major by Antonin Dvorak was the sole piece played in the second half. Written in four movements, it is a colorful work, filled with tuneful melodies, and rich orchestral harmonies. Sadly, this has always been a work hidden in the shadows of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” It was indeed a pleasure to hear it again in live performance.

The orchestra played Dvorak’s symphony exceptionally well. Maestro Groner’s understanding of the score brought the 8th alive, and gave it the attention and recognition it deserves.

The first movement, Allegro con brio, opens with an expansive melody played, or should I say sung, by the cellos … such a glorious sound, and beautifully played. Throughout the movement, melodic fragments can be heard tossed about different instruments in the orchestra.

The second movement, Adagio, is somber and introspective, while filled with a variety of moods and themes. Dvorak excels in his orchestral writing, weaving the integral parts into a beautiful musical whole.

The third movement, Allegretto grazioso, is a lovely waltz, graceful and folksy at the same time. Groner’s attention to detail was noted, and the players followed carefully to every movement of his baton.

The final movement, Allegro ma non troppo, could well be the most difficult of the movements to comprehend, if for no reason other than its formal structure. It is set of variations introduced by a trumpet fanfare. If one is not careful, it is easy to lose the sense of continuity among the variations.

Groner’s tempo for this movement was a bit slower than I’ve heard in the past, and to me, it worked. He allowed each facet of the movement to assume its own identify while moving toward an exciting and jubilant close. Well done!

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