On Saturday, the Harvard-Radcliffe Mozart Society Orchestra put on its 30th anniversary concert, which showcased the talents of the orchestra in its three-piece program: Bela Bartók’s “Romanian Folk Dances,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major. The two-hour performance highlighted the cohesiveness of the orchestra as well as the technical skill and musicianship of its individual players, who conveyed the wide spectrum of sounds and emotions each piece entailed.
The concert began with Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances,” a seven-movement piece in which the orchestra wove together clear melodies with surprising harmonies. With precise control of rhythm and dynamics, conductor Theodoretus I. Breen ’14 captured the eclectic, colorful style of the piece with confidence and accomplished technical execution. The fluctuating tempi of the second movement are not easy to conduct, but Breen successfully kept the orchestra unified throughout the movement. With its seven different types of dances, ranging from the rich “stick dance” of the first movement to the eerie, almost exotic dance of the third movement and the faster-paced dance in the final movement, Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances” is a challenging piece to play, but the MSO’s impressive performance belied its difficulty. They not only distinguished between crescendo and diminuendo as well as staccato and legato within each movement, but also differentiated the broad encompassing styles of each movement.
The MSO next performed Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, one of his best known works. The orchestra played nearly perfectly under freshman conductor Sasha G. Scolnik-Brower ’17. The string section performed the familiar sweeping melody in the first movement with lightness and grace, while the brass and wind sections beautifully added a darker and more turbulent tone to the piece. The monumental final movement opened with a series of rapidly ascending notes, which captured the wide sonic range of the orchestra. The shocking changes in volume gave the movement liveliness and vigor.
The final work, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major, also conducted by Scolnik-Brower, was perhaps the most successful of the three. The orchestra brought in three guest soloists: violinist Stella F. Chen ’15, cellist Andree R. Werner ’16, and pianist Mariel A. Werner ’16. The intricate interplay among the soloists and the orchestra created an interesting and unconventional performance; few pieces demand so many soloists. Each soloist performed her entrance and moment well, and together their sounds complemented one another and emphasized the joyful theme of the piece. The orchestral melody of the first movement was echoed by the rich cello, the smooth and silky piano, and the clear violin. Not only was the dialogue between the soloists and the orchestra clear, but within the orchestra itself, there was a nuanced exchange among the string, brass, and wind sections.
The orchestra’s powerful performance showcased the musical ability and technical mastery of the talented members of the MSO. The three compositions selected for the program were difficult to play, but the MSO assembled the pieces into a brilliantly performed concert. The strings interacted well with the brass and wind sections with precise timing and cohesiveness. In addition, the conductors effortlessly commanded the orchestra with confidence and skill. For those who enjoy orchestral music, the MSO’s concerts are definitely a must-see: the MSO executes its pieces with great passion and attention that illustrate the hard work and time its performers put into their music.