Bangor Symphony Orchestra conductor Lucas Richman served up a program Sunday designed to lift concertgoers above the uncertainty of the meteorological and political fray that Mainers experienced the first week of March. The concert at the Collins Center for the Arts featured works by Johannes Brahms and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Richman succeeded at giving symphony regulars a happy concert that featured soloist Inbal Segev, an amazing cellist who played with passion and precision.
The concert began with a stunning concerto by Igor Stravinsky called “Dumbarton Oaks.” It was written in the late 1930s after the Russian composer visited the Washington, D.C., home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss.
The couple commissioned it for their 30th wedding anniversary.
Whether intended or not, the concerto in E-flat is a portrait of a marriage. The first movement conjured up the joy, elation and apprehension of the early years. The lively second movement evoked images of growing children chasing dogs and cats, tussling with each other and their angry adolescence. The third movement sounded like empty nesters forging a new relationship, less frenzied than one they shared in the recent past.
Segev and her cello, made by Francesco Ruggieri in 1673, enchanted concertgoers in Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” The cello often is the instrument that best conveys the depths of grief and the bottomless pit of despair. Instead, Tchaikovsky composed a joyful piece reminiscent of the late Baroque period.
Segev performed with precision and grace, and the orchestra followed her lead. The cellist, who began playing in Israel when she was 5, forced the BSO to play with the same concise clarity she did. It was one of the orchestra’s best performances this season because of Segev’s inspiration.
Richman told the audience as the concert began that hearing Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 was like “being wrapped in a warm blanket.” It did feel that way, but the orchestra performed as if that blanket was familiar and worn.
After the precision with which the orchestra played with Segev, the Brahms symphony at times seemed lackluster. The strings, in particular, seemed to lack definition and sounded at times like the season — muddy.
That did not prevent members of the audience, a bit smaller than usual, from rising to its feet and cheering in gratitude and appreciation for the respite the concert offered from the mud season and the political one.
The BSO will next perform the opera “La Boheme” at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Collins Center for the Arts. For information, call 942-5555 or visit bangorsymphony.org.