|Mozart:||Overture to The Magic Flute|
|Bernstein:||Overture to Act III of A Quiet Place|
|Elgar:||Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85|
|Dvorak:||Symphony No. 9|
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Shauna Rolston, cello
George Hanson, conductor
George Hanson, the third and final guest conductor vying to succeed Roland Johnson as music director of the Madison Symphony Orchestra -- I think he'll get the job -- may owe a great debt to Fate that he just happened to lead the program in which Canadian cellist Shauna Rolston appeared Saturday evening. She was not just good; she was really good, playing Elgar's Concerto in E Minor, which is a late work, unusually introspective and dark. There were a few ensemble problems in the quicker passages, where Rolston rushed slightly and Hanson didn't catch up instantly. But with good support from Hanson in the slow movement and in major slower passages elsewhere, Rolston was alternately forceful and driving, then delicate and lyrical almost beyond bearing. Still in her early 20s, she will certainly become a very bright star.
Hanson studied with Seiji Ozawa and it shows: balletically flying the tip of the baton in the whole space of about 25 square feet seemed a bit excessive for Mozart's Magic Flute overture, though the result was clean and well articulated. Immediately following came Hanson's best work of the evening, the Overture to Act III of Leonard Bernstein's opera "A Quiet Place". Not yet recorded, this piece is little known, and I was elated to hear it for the very first time. It is strikingly beautiful, with wonderfully wrought orchestration. I was told the rehearsal was not very promising, so it's a credit to Hanson that he was able to pull such a good performance of a difficult piece from his players when the chips were down. A competent but not especially compelling reading of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 concluded the program with a large-scale flourish, eliciting sustained applause from the full house at the Oscar Mayer Theatre.
Isthmus, January, 1994
Copyright 1994 Jess Anderson