On the evening of Saturday, January 25th in the beautiful Dana Auditorium at Guilford College, the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra presented Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61, and Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82. The auditorium was full with a diverse, eager crowd. buzzing with excitement.
Beethoven's Violin Concerto was conducted by Nathaniel Beversluis and featured Dmitry Sitkovetsky, violin. The concerto follows the typical formula, with the orchestra beginning each movement with a few minutes of beautiful music and the soloist entering after to both mimic the orchestra and improvise on the theme. Beversluis is a sharp, precise conductor, and the orchestra was tight and secure. There were no audible mistakes, no hesitation; the orchestra sounded like a recording. The piece had extreme dynamic markings, as was Beethoven's style, and the orchestra observed them perfectly. The performance was effective and quite marvelous. Sitkovetsky played with a bright, clear, carrying tone that was very pleasant to hear. It was a treat to watch him play; it was obvious that he felt the music physically and loved sharing it.
The second piece performed was Sibelius's Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, conducted by Sitkovetsky. His conducting was just as precise as Beverslius', and he had the same results: the orchestra was so tight and accurate that it sounded like a flawless recording. The orchestra observed the dynamics just as effectively as in the Beethoven. They blended so well and had such impeccable timing that the orchestra sounded like one organism producing beautiful melodies. The third and final movement of this piece was my favorite; it was played just as well as the rest of the symphony, but it had some extra emotion, some extra meaning, that made it stand out. The final chords had such gusto that the crowd was left energized and buzzing.
I was at first skeptical of the pairing of Beethoven and Sibelius in one performance; they seem so different and separated by time that I could not fathom their music making sense together. Thankfully I was wrong. The two pieces worked well together, and the concert was indeed a success. For the next installment of the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra's 2013-2014 season, please see our calendar.