Not unlike Leonard Bernstein in his young person’s concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Maestro Hofman chose to educate the audience with musical selections that illustrated the “War of the Romantics”. Her choices included, with the help of Carrie Hennessey, soprano, the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, two arias from Verdi’s operas Il Trovatore and Il Vespri Siciliani, plus one aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Carrie Hennessey’s towering voice did not overcome the symphony, but added to the concept that Maestro Hofman brought to the concert. The blend of the voice to the symphony’s accompaniment was just right and provided total enjoyment on the part of the audience.
The tour de force was the Brahms Symphony No. 4 where the conservatism of Brahms was brought to the fore in the final movement which is based on an ancient dance form of a chaconne from the middle ages. The long flute solo by Susan Clark brought the symphony in line with its seriousness and showed its classical and conservative roots. The orchestra played as one cohesive group. The orchestration appeared to follow the Meiningen arrangement that Brahms adhered to when he presented the original work. All in all, a satisfying performance by a local ensemble in the comfortable setting of Lesher Hall.
The next concert is scheduled for February 21st, at the same location and time. It will feature the Mother Goose Suite of Ravel and Paul Dukas’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
— Douglas Burgess