Make us your home page
Instagram

After little-known Belgian works, ever-popular Tchaikovsky owns the night

Ben Markwell on viola.

Ben Markwell on viola.

TAMPA — The Florida Orchestra gave a little Belgian music festival Friday night, at least in the first half of the concert under guest conductor Rossen Milanov in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

Cesar Franck was Belgium's best-known composer, but his symphonic poem Le chasseur maudit is rarely heard. It's something of a thriller-diller, inspired by an 18th century poem about a defiant count who goes hunting (thus the horn calls) on a Sunday morning (church chimes in the percussion section). Nothing good comes of such impiety, of course, and Milanov, who was extremely detailed in his stick technique and gestures, plunged the orchestra into the frantic finale depicting the nobleman's damnation, much influenced by the pyrotechnics of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, to be played on the next masterworks program in March.

The theme continued with music by another, lesser known Belgian, Joseph Jongen, whose two-movement Suite for Viola and Orchestra from 1915 featured principal viola Ben Markwell. It was hard to get interested in the work, which is awfully slow-moving in the first movement and only fitfully takes advantage of the viola's seductively dark sound. Markwell, playing with a score, gave it a workmanlike reading, marred by some episodes of wayward pitch against the impressionistic haze of the orchestration.

If the works by Franck and Jongen were obscure, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, which took up the second half of the program, is a familiar crowd-pleaser, with its "fate" theme introduced right away by low clarinets, one of classical music's signature tunes. A highlight was principal Robert Rearden's immaculate, sublime performance of the second movement's famous horn solo, marked dolce con molto espressione. Milanov, a Bulgarian who is music director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey, handled Tchaikovsky's trademark mix of melancholia and excitement in fine fashion.

Because Friday's concert got under way about 15 minutes late, I had to leave before the symphony was finished to make my deadline, but fortunately I was able to stick around long enough to hear the third movement's perfect waltz, suggesting Tchaikovsky's great ballet music.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8716.

.if you go

Program repeats at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $15-$45, with $10 tickets for students, educators, military. (727) 892-3337 or 1-800-662-7286.

After little-known Belgian works, ever-popular Tchaikovsky owns the night 02/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Chabad Jewish Center plans Hanukkah festivities for Winthrop

    Religion

    RIVERVIEW — Chabad of Brandon and South Shore presents a family Hanukkah Festival at 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Dec 12) at the Winthrop Town Center, 11109 Winthrop Market St.

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 10

    Events

    Gin Blossoms: The Grammy nominated band fuses melodic rock, pop, folk and country elements. 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 9

    Events

    Santa and Ice Skating in St. Petersburg: Santa and his sleigh will be appearing on select nights in St. Petersburg for visits with area children. After visiting Santa, stick around for "glice" skating on a simulated ice rink. 6 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. Free; $5 …

  4. Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

    Events

    Boat parades that were planned tonight in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have been canceled because of weather fears.

  5. Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

    Events

    It's time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20. • Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There's a menorah made of fidget spinners at Hanukkah on Ice in Westfield Countryside, and a falafel menorah …