|Marjorie Lange Hanna's ICO tenure is as long as anyone's.|
The remaining piece comes by its Czech associations through its nickname: W.A. Mozart's "Prague" Symphony (No. 38 in D major, K. 504). The nickname is authentic, unlike many such monikers, in that it was composed for
its premiere in the Bohemian city where the Austrian composer's later work was well received.
|Andres Cardenes, 1986 IVCI bronze medalist.|
After a commanding orchestra statement to launch the work, a cello solo — directed by the score to resemble a recitative — came off less declamatory and assertive than usual. It was a soberly careful introduction to the dialogue of the soloists, who set out some nicely dovetailed phrasing in the course of the opening movement. The slow movement featured artfully "sung" contributions by the solo partners, and was notable for outstanding wind playing.
In the outer movements, excessive vigor from the four horns, placed along the stage's back wall, became an issue in the acoustically sensitive hall. There were momentary coordination problems between soloists and ensemble; to some extent, they may be traced to the work itself, which one commentator delicately suggests throws up "acoustical obscurities in one or two places."
The other major work, the Mozart symphony, enjoyed a brisk reading. Its panache was brightly outlined in the first movement, a busy well-integrated Allegro whose texture foreshadows Mozart's most awe-inspiring symphonic construction: the finale of the "Jupiter" Symphony. This "symphony without a minuet," as it is often identified, featured a slow movement that in this performance unfolded eloquently. Initially, however, there seemed to be disagreement as to how much the first phrase's tempo should slacken for the sake of expressiveness toward the end. The finale was an exemplary summing-up of the work's many strokes of genius.
The short works gave a pleasant substantiation of the "Czech Mates" concert title. Martinu's Overture, H. 345, benefited from music director Matthew Kraemer's placement of first and second violins opposite each other. The retrospective nature of the piece was underlined by a concerto grosso texture, with an adept solo group keyed to the playing of concertmaster Tarn Travers. After a momentary lull in the middle, the work gathered energy until it projected a rather forced majesty in conclusion. No doubt that contrivance helped make this piece a worthy curtain-raiser, however.
After intermission came the Janacek Suite (Serenade) for Orchestra. op. 3. Bracketed by a couple of "con moto" movements were a brace of soft-spoken movements, with some attractive harp enhancements to the composer's peculiar brand of lyricism. The work was performed at the polished level, with nicely distributed instrumental colors, that the ICO has proved regularly capable of under Kraemer's baton in its copacetic home base.