Review - March 23, 2019 Concert

On Saturday evening, March 23, 2019, the orchestra, under the baton of Maestro James Domine, gave an outstanding two-hour performance before a large and appreciative audience.

The concert opened with the National Anthem, followed by Maestro Domine's composition,"Rondo Fantasie,” a virtuostic solo transcription of the third movement of his third piano concerto. Fifteen year old Julia Wallace was chosen to play at this concert as part of the “Domine Sampler,” a program that affords an opportunity for exemplary students to play one of his works at each of our concerts, thereby introducing new works by him and offering rare opportunities for the students to perform with an orchestra. Julia was soundly applauded by a delighted audience. Maestro Domine was later heard to say how extremely pleased he was with her wonderful performance.

The next offering was Beethoven’s “Victory Symphony” from “Wellington’s Victory, Op. 91.” This eight minute piece was composed by Beethoven to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by British troops led by the Duke of Wellington, who became a great hero of the Viennese, and it anticipates Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture some 50 years later. Rousing and exciting, the audience applauded and cheered this rarely heard piece. Often seen today as a novelty, at the time of Beethoven’s death it was publicly thought to be  one of his best works.

Weber’s ”Overture to Der Freischütz“ vividly depicts the two central elements in the opera,"the life of the hunter and the rule of demonic powers,” and shows Weber’s skill as an orchestrator. A romantic opera in three acts, it is widely considered one of the first German masterpieces in the world of opera. Probably no other German work in history was ever so quickly and widely accepted. The opera was to have a major influence on Wagner and, a century later, composers as diverse as Debussy, Stravinsky and Hindemith acknowledged its importance. The Overture was performed superbly through the combined skills of Maestro Domine and the orchestra. The audience showed its appreciation with thunderous applause.

The “Serenade in F minor, Op.3” was written by Leo Weiner, a Hungarian Jew, when he was 21 years old, and quickly became as highly regarded in Hungary as Bartok and Kodaly. He won two major prizes with this piece, which is filled with well-contrasted melodic ideas and is brilliantly orchestrated. The enthusiasm of critics and audiences in 1906 is not hard to understand and can, as proven by Maestro Domine and the orchestra, be enjoyed by listeners more than a century later. The audience sat enraptured by the unusual rhythmic intricacies and abounding colors in this work. They applauded and cheered yet another great composition on the evening’s program.

After an intermission came the “icing on the cake.” Blake Pouliot, our violin soloist from the Colburn School in Los Angeles, honored us with his magnificent and flawless performance of the ”Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.” Most of us know and love this great work, and Blake did it proud! It was everything it could be and more. He is a mega-talented, down-to-earth, handsome young man, destined for stardom to be sure! And we had the privilege of seeing him now as his career spirals upward and onward. At the end of his performance, the crowd went wild and rose from their seats applauding, whistling, cheering, and bringing him in from the wings three times to accept their accolades. It was sheer joy! Mendelssohn himself would have been thrilled. If you were not there, you missed something truly special.

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