Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Orchestra Hall, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

The DSO’s trip to Florida is postponed,; however, this (intended as a pre-tour) concert was able to go ahead. Rossini’s Overture to William Tell opened with some exquisite five-part solo cello-playing before the storm washed away such loveliness (trombones off the leash), then woodwinds matched their cellist colleagues in terms of beguiling expression, and finally the Lone Ranger galloped in to save the day (not really, for such an association came only with TV).

Following the interval, Pictures at an Exhibition (in Ravel’s orchestration, of course), Jader Bignamini the curator of a colourful account, without novelty for its own sake (the familiar sounding familiar, if not without some drama) well-played and with character, solos taken with style (trumpet, saxophone) as Mussorgsky sketched (for piano) Viktor Hartmann’s artefacts and Ravel got his paintbox out. All led to a resounding ‘Great Gate of Kiev’.

As centrepiece, Dvořák’s made-in-America Cello Concerto found Bignamini more explorative of the work’s emotions than Joshua Roman, for the cellist played the solo part almost too well in terms of technique; here was confidence, poise and sensitivity, if not the most refulgent tone, always at the service of the music but without quite enough intensity to project the composer’s heart and soul complexities, whether passionate or poignant. It was all very nice, as much from the DSO as from Roman – a collegiate performance – but this Concerto goes beyond the cordial. The soloist’s bravura encore, Julie-O (thanks to Hannah), his own composition(?), confirmed Roman’s natural and self-possessed musicianship, as here, from a few years ago: