August 04, 2020

Despite obstacles, BSO soars with guest

ORONO – The third classical concert of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra season was thrown a few curve balls. First, the score for Antonio Rosetti’s Horn Concerto in F Major that was ordered from Germany last summer showed up three weeks ago. Except it was Rosetti’s Horn Concerto for D Minor and soloist Scott Burditt literally had his hands full learning the piece in time for the concert.

Then, a snowstorm blasted the area Sunday, making it impossible for organizers to justify holding the concert. It was postponed and rescheduled for Monday night.

Perhaps because people were still hesitant to drive on ice-clumped roads and because the concert took place in the evening, the Maine Center for the Arts was less full Monday than during a typical Sunday afternoon concert.

Nevertheless, the musicians, under the leadership of Janna Hymes-Bianchi, played a warm, determined and pleasurable concert that included Mozart’s Overture to “Don Giovanni,” the Rosetti piece in D minor and Brahms’ tragic Symphony No. 4.

Hymes-Bianchi, who moved to Camden a year ago and is music director for the Maine Grand Opera Company there, is the third conductor of the five-concert season contending for the position of music director at the BSO. At the beginning of the concert, she welcomed the audience with a few words about each piece on the program and radiated a comment that was both an insight and a compliment: “You are so lucky to have this orchestra in this town.”

Hymes-Bianchi’s own delight to be conducting was apparent in the careful molding she had taken with each score. The Mozart, which is likely to have been too restrained for some tastes, had a crispness that rose out of Hymes-Bianchi’s evenness rather than from a sense of the rollicking possibilities.

The most engaging piece of the evening was the Brahms, where Hymes-Bianchi’s measured pacing, shaping and concentration really paid off. The parts she nailed – the second and third movements in particular – had brisk details, mystery and a generous spaciousness. The weight of the final few measures was simply spine-tingling.

Given the surprise placed before soloist Scott Burditt for Rosetti’s Horn Concerto in D Minor, one can only admire the moments of velvety lyricism he achieved in this performance. His range may not be as broad as some horn players, but he stepped up completely to this task and created a gently poetic interpretation of this work. His fellow musicians rallied around him and played with true tenderness, too.

Hymes-Bianchi is the first woman to contend for the position of conductor and music director in the history of the 106-year-old orchestra. Last night, she proved herself musically direct, technically thoughtful and finely controlled as a leader.

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