Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Seattle Symphony Season Preview

A few days have passed since the Seattle Symphony presented its Season Preview concert.  The concert itself was a mix of movements and the occasional complete piece of music.  Schwarz also opted to stick with familiar composers and in most cases familiar music for the evening.  Undoubtedly a very good strategy for encouraging further attendance at Seattle Symphony concerts.

In the group I brought to the concert, only one person, other than myself, regularly attended the Seattle Symphony.  The other five had only sporadic contact with orchestral performance of any sort.  Two of the five were practically brand new to the concert experience, having went to their first orchestral concert only in June of this year.  Two others had a sporadic history with orchestras in other cities - LA, NY, and Houston.  And one person had never been to an orchestral concert before.  

As I said, Schwarz and the orchestra stuck to the familiar - Brahms, Beethoven, Gershwin, and Tchaikovsky.  Prior to the intermission, without fail, my group loved the first movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony followed closely by An American in Paris.  Schwarz provided commentary from the podium that helped the gals in my group understand or at least appreciate what they were hearing.  In fact, at intermission, one person wanted to know more about Beethoven and the symphony as a musical form.  I was happy to oblige her interest.

Predictably, the second half was equally well received.  How could it not with Strauss' Don Juan and the finale from Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony? 

From a performance standpoint, the orchestra played well.  There were a few bumps here and there - some looseness in the strings, a few entrance problems, and rough playing, especially in the horns, but nothing fatal to the enjoyment of the night and all issues that can be corrected before the selections played are performed in full later in the season.  Unfortunately, for my tastes, the Tchaikovsky drug a little in parts.  I prefer a brisker pace for the movement.  Likewise, the Gershwin was on the heavy side.  

On the way out, the two ladies who had some experience with attending orchestral performances in other cities were clamoring to go again.  One was eagerly trying to persuade me to attend this weekend's SciFi Favorites Pops concerts.  That was a non-starter.  However, I encouraged her to become a subscriber and join Club Wolfgang (an affinity group for people in their 20's and 30's) with which, the SciFi Favorites concert is part of the Wolfgang ticket package.   

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