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February 22, 2000

Elegant Conducting enhances Eloquent Concert

A Review by Pat and Ernie Pinson

The Mobile Symphony seems to be playing extremely well this season under its changing venue of conductors. Daryl One (pronounced oh-nay) made his debut with the orchestra Saturday night, Feb. 12. One is Music Director of Victoria Symphony and professor at Stetson, but there is nothing stodgy about his conducting. It is expressive and elegant. His broad experience brought excitement to a program of seasoned warhorses.

The curtain raiser, Mozart's Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, was full of suppressed enthusiasm, fast but unhurried, which the strings played cleanly and well.

The Violin Concerto by Max Bruch seemed especially suited to the sonorous Stradivari violin played by featured guest artist, Jennifer Koh. She is a young and engaging performer who has an impressive touring schedule in Europe and the US. Koh took her time with the expressive opening and themes during the first movement, often holding back on a line so that One and the orchestra had to watch carefully to synchronize the beat. The Adagio of the second movement again emphasized the sonority of the violin, and the rubato she used sometimes stretched the breath capacity of the brass section, but the music still had an almost seamless singing quality. She used every centimeter of the bow and at times seemed to be caressing the instrument as she played. The final section moved with greater excitement, but still the allegro was relaxed enough to allow all of the virtuoso runs and double stops to be executed cleanly and fully. The audience responded enthusiastically.

The concluding Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony brought the spotlight back to One and orchestral color. He was in clear control of changing tempi, entrances, lengthy crescendos, dramatic pauses and all the notes, and he worked from memory -- without the score.

This symphony explores the timbres of the different instruments, so the music often shifts from solo to echo, from string choir to droll bassoon or nasal, reedy oboe. Personalities of instrumental sound become pronounced, and the woodwinds carry the greatest responsibility because they have more different sounds than any other section (except percussion, but they are a 20th century phenomenon.) The clarinets were especially eloquent -- opening the work with the "Fate" theme and closing out the second movement with a particularly beautiful, clean, unison ending. The French horn opened the second movement with a long, lyrical theme and was prominent in the Waltz-like Third movement passing themes back and forth with the woodwinds.

The final movement brings the orchestra into a pulsating engine moving toward a proclamation of the theme by the brass section and then the whole orchestra, making this a rousing conclusion not only to the symphony but to the concert.

The members of the orchestra certainly rose to the occasion performing solos with full professional poise. Bravo! woodwinds and horns, and brass and strings, and Maestro One for a "one of a kind" concert.

The Harbinger