Arts concert review

The tide of expression flows for you

An exploration into the expressive power of the orchestra

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Gil Shaham performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with Andris Nelsons and the BSO.
Hilary Scott

Week 3: Arlene Sierra’s “Moler” (2012), Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E Minor
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Oct. 7, 2017

Every time that I go to the symphony hall is like the first time; I walk in, am visually struck by the architecture and displays, and proceed to be auditorily blown away by the orchestra. This concert was no different in that regard.

The opening piece “Moler” by Arlene Sierra easily wins out for newest piece that I’ve heard at the hall so far, having been written in 2012 (so modern, in fact, that the composer was there, and came up for bows!). It definitely felt very different as well, not being nearly as consonant or “ordered” as the contrasting Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff pieces later, but introduced an idea central to the rest of the concert: ebbs and flows.

Then began Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D, played by the passionate and energetic Gil Shaham. Weaving melodies and countermelodies in and out of the orchestra, he built tension while pacifying the excitable strings. Amongst these melodies were soft and sad strings, triumphant winds, dramatic horns, and above the swells of all of them, the soloist introduced new melodies: folk-like at first, then nostalgic, lonely and consoling, all rolled into one instrument (which almost sounded like two at times). Being long, complex, but quite palatable, this piece now has a special place in my heart.

As always, the last piece took the show. Rachmaninoff’s one-hour masterpiece, can be described as nothing but beautiful. From the dark opening, to the melodies that are hopeful, submissive, happy, and depressed all at once, to the intermittent wind solos and solis, to the tonal and dynamic power of the orchestra, I was taken on an emotional roller coaster. There were points where the orchestra became almost silent, causing the audience to hold their breath, waiting to be reassured by the return of a romantic or hopeful theme. But as with real life, it doesn’t always end how you expect it to, sometimes in the form of a soloist giving a touching soliloquy, sometimes a triumphant explosion of sound, and sometimes, sad chords brought on another theme, but always flowing.