Bangor Orchestra’s online concert reflects relief from pandemic mitigation
May 20 – Lucas Richman, conductor and musical director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, could not have known months ago where his audience would be on the pandemic timeline when he scheduled the May concert.
The concert, recorded on May 2 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, is the fourth Masterworks program in the orchestra’s 125th season. It includes the Violin Concerto No. 1 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Symphony No. 5 by Franz Schubert.
Mozart’s effervescent piece personifies the exhilaration and relief we all feel as the restrictions on the pandemic are lifted and a return to normalcy is within reach. Soloist Jennifer Frautschi, playing a breathtakingly sounding 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin, captures all the youthful wonder of Mozart, who was 17 when he wrote his first violin concerto.
Frautschi filled the empty concert hall with crisp, clear sound that captured all of Mozart’s playful and adventurous melodies with passion and precision.
Schubert composed his Symphony No. 5 in 1816 for four weeks at the age of 19. She was full of optimism and good humor in relation to her fourth symphony, which was deemed tragic, according to the program’s notes.
This piece, influenced by Mozart, Joseph Hadyn and Ludwig van Beethoven, displays “an elegance and harmonic complexity” that belong only to Schubert, Richman said in his opening remarks. The orchestra embraces the symphony like an old friend it hasn’t hugged for a very long time.
Once again, Richman has programmed a piece by a little-known composer – the overture to Sinfonia in C major – to open this concert. Marianna Martines was a prolific composer who led a colorful life, according to the program’s notes. She has composed over 200 works in all genres except opera and has lived a colorful life in Vienna. She composed Sinfonia in 1770 at the age of 24.
This piece was a great way to start the concert. The format of the three movements of the Sinfonia played rapidly, slowly, and rapidly respectively, strangely reflecting the rhythm of the pandemic year. There was the mad rush to shut up and curl up, followed by the slow ramp of observing vaccine safety measures and the rush to reopen and get back to normal.
The BSO’s decision to produce these shorter, filmed concerts worked well musically, even with string musicians wearing masks and socially distant. Seeing the brass and woodwind players almost encased in plexiglass was a bit surprising at first, but the sounds of the sections mixed together wonderfully.
Somehow, when Richman and executive director Brian Hinrichs reworked the season because of the pandemic, they knew exactly what songwriters their audience would need for comfort. It turns out that the youthful joy and exuberance of Mozart and Schubert was exactly what we need right now.
For more ticket information, contact the Bangor Symphony Orchestra at 942-5555 or visit bangorsymphony.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this report was wrong when Franz Schubert was composing his Symphony No.5