Symphonia Boca Raton honored Gerard Schwarz in his seventieth-birthday year with its Apollo Award for Musical Excellence. Schwarz (himself a trumpeter, including in the New York Philharmonic from 1972 until 1977) began the program with a Torelli Sonata featuring the Symphonia’s Artistic Director, Jeffrey Kaye. Composed in an era of valve-less instruments, the solo part lies in a high register. Kaye’s trumpet rang out gloriously as he skillfully negotiated its intricate ornamentations, and the Grave movement featured fine solos by violin and cello principals.
The conductor’s son Julian Schwarz’s account of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations followed using Wilhelm Fitzenhagen’s revision. Schwarz’s cello radiated a warm tone, his phrasing was elegant, and his technique brilliant. Karen Dixon contributed pleasing flute solos. Next Gerard Schwarz’s own Rhapsody, cello and orchestra dialoging, the solo part quite expressive and at moments agitated, but when the pace accelerates the cello becomes brighter and finally joins with the ensemble. This substantial and enjoyable work blends old-fashioned romanticism with more modern elements as well as displaying some structural parallels with the Tchaikovsky.
If short of violins (22.214.171.124.2), the Symphonia’s thirty-five members are well-suited to Beethoven’s Second Symphony, from a crucial time in the composer’s life, just as his growing deafness triggered the despondency reflected in the Heiligenstadt Testament, yet this is an extraordinarily sunny and optimistic work, and Schwarz’s reading reflected this. The Adagio introduction was given lots of breathing room, then violas, cellos and woodwinds served well the exposition, duly repeated. Schwarz maintained high intensity throughout the rest of the movement. The Larghetto was rendered with loving affection, oboes and horns were standouts in the Scherzo and Trio. and then Schwarz signaled the Finale’s jocularity, the coda bringing the concert to an exciting conclusion with brass and timpani blazing.