The Wichita Symphony Orchestra, lead by music director Daniel Hege, marked the beginning of their 69th season with great flourish Saturday evening, rewarding the audience in the Century II Concert Hall with a program of drama and beauty. The Orchestra demonstrated a new level of polish and power in this concert, and the exciting program of works by Kodaly, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky that Hege selected provided a terrific vehicle for these abilities.
In Dances of Galanta, Zoltan Kodaly draws upon the gypsy melodies he heard in his youth. This early exposure had a great influence on Kodaly. He researched folk music, which inspired and infused his compositions. The orchestra performed this piece lustily. Sarunas Jankauskas spun out the prominent clarinet cadenza with exotic flair, and the winds rose to join him, melding a beautiful fabric of sound. Chastity Pawolski’s piccolo playing added the perfect amount of brilliance to this rich creation.
Soloist Ingrid Fliter brought a joyous energy to the stage as she performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor. The piece contains a wide range of emotions, from light-hearted to brooding, and Fliter communicated them all, creating a wide range of colors at the piano, coaxing everything from a gentle warm glow to brilliant fire from the instrument.
Following intermission, the orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony in E minor. In their performance the group brought forth all the energy and beauty that the score contains. There are prolonged unison passages for first and second clarinets and the two musicians spun their sounds together perfectly. Nicholas Smith’s playing of the prolonged french horn solo in the second movement was a gesture of grace and beauty. Under Hege’s guidance, the entire orchestra demonstrated an impressive power and musicianship. The brass section played with a new unity and strength and the strings produced at an impressive level. Unison passages in the violin section had a fine sound and great clarity.
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In welcoming remarks before the concert, WSO executive director Don Reinhold encouraged each concertgoer to tell a friend about the symphony and invite them to attend a concert. Words can not adequately describe the experience of hearing transcendent works performed with skill and passion by dedicated professionals.