Concert Review: The San Antonio Symphony
October 12, 2013
“A concert ranging from biblical sweep to 20th century raw orchestral power marked the San Antonio Symphony’s second program of the season Friday night.
One of the Bible’s most dramatic stories, the Israelite journey across the Red Sea out of Egypt, played out with the glory of a Handel oratorio, only it was by Schubert, a rare performance of his Mirjams Siegesgesang, or “Miriam’s Song of Triumph.”
The Mastersingers and mezzo soprano Catherine Martin joined the orchestra for the vivid musical imagery of the sea opening for Moses and his followers and then the sea swallowing up the pursuing Egyptians.
Martin is a San Antonio native who now is a global opera star. The Schubert work requires strength and stamina to be heard over the orchestra and choir, plus a wide vocal range. Martin checked off on all of those, adding her beautiful, rich voice.
The concluding fugal passages of the orchestra and Mastersingers were spine-tingling. The Schumann Piano Concerto followed, featuring a second guest artist, New York’s Jonathan Biss, who lately has become a leading Schumann champion after earlier performing as a Beethoven specialist.
From the opening bars, it was evident Biss knew how to convey Schumann’s lyrical soul.
The concerto was presented like a dreamy love letter, especially in the first and second movements. Biss turned playful in the final movement, the wonderful melodies sparkling with electricity.
The orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, performed with precision and warmth along with Biss.”