Attending a Lexington Sinfonietta concert

Tonight I went to a Lexington Sinfonietta concert, thanks to my boss, who has a subscription but was going to be out of town this weekend, and so gave me his tickets.

Two nice things about the concert were the ease of finding the venue and the free parking. It was much less stressful than trying to attend a concert in Boston (I think I would go to many more concerts if only there were free parking.)

I was surprised to learn that the concert was sold out, but once I got inside, I realized that the hall (at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington) doesn’t seat all that many people. Still, it was a very healthy sized audience. I guess they like their classical music in Lexington.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this group, since I hadn’t really heard much about them. Interestingly, just like with the Longwood Symphony, Jonathan McPhee is their new conductor (I think that’s four orchestras now, with the Boston Ballet and Symphony by the Sea!) At any rate, I thought the Sinfonietta sounded quite good. The ensemble seemed very together, at least within the strings. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the hall seemed to swallow up the brass a little bit and some of the low string parts.

The first piece they played was Stravinsky’s Danses Concertantes, which I had never heard before. The first few measures of the piece sounded almost like a modern version of the third Brandenburg concerto to me. Later on in the first movement, I was reminded of parts of Apollon Musagete, which I played a few years ago at MIT.

The second piece was Beethoven’s violin concerto. I’m afraid I can’t really say much good about the soloist, except that at least she never had to worry about being drowned out by the orchestra (she was quite loud). And I guess she played all the notes and never got lost. But her intonation was very approximate, and it just didn’t sound at all musical to me. Her tone was rather lacking in delicacy, refinement, and subtlety - in other words it was pretty much always loud and brash. The third movement was slightly better in spots, but in general I was very happy whenever the piece came to a tutti section.

The last piece on the program was Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin - a piece I’ve heard many times on the radio, but never really remembered the name of. I think the orchestra sounded the best on this piece - the strings blended nicely, with a warm sound, and everyone did a great job bringing out the orchestral colors in the piece (which Ravel is known for, of course). The only thing I would’ve changed was to make the trumpet louder in the last movement.

Overall, I thought it was very nice, and I’m glad I went. I went to say hi to Jonathan backstage, after the concert. He really is such a nice guy. He seemed very pleased to see me there, and I told him I thought it sounded great. I’m glad I lucked out on choosing a good orchestra with a great conductor - I thought it might be hard to find another conductor I enjoyed playing with as much as I did with Dante at MIT.

Anyway, playing chamber music tomorrow morning - Brahms G minor piano quartet. Should be fun. (Too bad it wasn’t Amanda playing that Beethoven concerto tonight!)

Oh, and I still don’t have my car back yet! It’s been weeks! I’m not too happy with my insurance company right now.

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