Boston Symphony Orchestra/Lehninger Pinchas Zukerman – Barber, Beethoven & Tchaikovsky

Overture to The School for Scandal, Op.5
Violin Concerto in D, Op.61
Symphony No.5 in E minor, Op.64

Pinchas Zukerman (violin)

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Marcelo Lehninger

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 23 October, 2010
Venue: Boston Symphony Hall

Marcelo Lehninger conducting the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra. Photograph: www.marcelolehninger.comThe young (31) Brazilian Marcelo Lehninger made his Boston Symphony Hall debut with this week’s series of concerts. Lehninger was recently appointed as one of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s two new assistant conductors for the 2010-2011 season. (The other is Sean Newhouse, who will make his debut as during the 2011 Tanglewood season.) On this evening, Lehninger displayed impressive assurance as he led the orchestra in a program dominated by two of the most popular pieces in the concert repertoire.

The evening started with the less-frequently heard Overture to “The School for Scandal”, Samuel Barber’s first orchestral composition. Composed in 1931 when the composer was 21, it was first of Barber’s works to be performed by a major ensemble (The Philadelphia Orchestra under Andrew Smallens played its premiere performance in 1933). Barber never intended the piece to be performed as a prelude to a performance of Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy of manners; instead he envisioned the work “as a musical reflection of the play’s spirit”. And Barber’s amusing piece skillfully evokes the wit, quicksilver banter and sly intrigue of Sheridan’s play. The BSO delivered a superbly played account of Barber’s buoyantly energetic work. Lehninger’s lucid and efficient conducting technique drew vibrant playing and nuanced phrasing from the players, with remarkably adept contributions by the woodwinds, especially principal oboe John Ferrillo and Robert Sheena on English horn.

Pinchas ZukermanPinchas Zukerman was the soloist for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. He gave a warmly elegant and unforced performance and was at his best and most persuasive in the spacious account of the first movement. He drew sumptuous tone in the central Larghetto, and gave a clean-cut, lively account of the finale. The whole account was with vibrant and rich-toned support from Lehninger and the BSO.

Lehninger maintained his remarkable assurance in Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, which, like the Beethoven has a long performance history with the BSO. In all four movements Lehninger displayed great attention to details. As a whole, the performance was full of vitality and drive, but it was the beauty of the BSO wind-playing in the highly lyrical Andante cantabile that was most memorable. The ‘Valse’ had a less than ideal degree of grace and elegance, but the finale flared up with the all the needed excitement and intensity.

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