By Nancy Plum
Princeton Symphony Orchestra explored three unique composers this past weekend in a Sunday afternoon concert in Richardson Auditorium. Bookending Niccolò Paganini’s monumental Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6 were two 20th-century works written only two years apart. In a concert featuring musical surprises and ear-catching effects, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, together with an exciting and very contemporary violin soloist, performed to a spellbound audience in Richardson.
Leoš Janáček’s 1926 Sinfonietta, as arranged by Erwin Stein, reflected the composer’s fascination with military bands and showed Janáček’s imagination in scoring each of the five movements for a different group of instruments. Led by Music Director Rossen Milanov, the musicians of Princeton Symphony played Janáček’s largest purely orchestral work cleanly and precisely. An effective pair of horns opened the first movement fanfare, together with exacting timpani and a quartet of trumpets. A Gypsy feel marked the second movement, which recalled Janáček’s hometown of Brno in what is now the Czech Republic, and elegant solos were heard form flutist Niles Watson, oboist Lillian Copeland, and later English horn player Lauren Williams. Throughout the five-movement work, Milanov kept the five musical vignettes flowing seamlessly, well capturing an atmosphere of Eastern Europe in the early part of the 20th century. more