Highly Successful Season Opener

“Expansive WCO”

As the leaves turn colors, the orchestras come out of hiding… On October 7 at the Woodstock Playhouse, the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra began its first season under new music director Jonathan Handman with an ambitious program which was hardly of chamber orchestra proportions. Are we close to having a Woodstock Symphony Orchestra? Looks like it to me.

Weber’s “Oberon” Overture was crisp, clear, and animated, although I was disappointed the the wonderful barbaric horn yawns near the end were barely audible. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, the “Reformation,” was actually his second symphony for full orchestra (after 12 string symphonies). It got the misleading number five when it was published 20 years after Mendelssohn’s death. I think Mendelssohn was right to withhold most of his posthumously published works, definitely so in this generally plodding, turgid piece (except for the lively second movement). Handman and the orchestra did their best to bring the piece to life, though.

There are no doubts about the status of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, beloved by cellists and listeners and perhaps the greatest concerto ever written for the cello. Cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel played here recently as a member of the excellent Jasper Quartet. She had the technique and, more important, the musical projection to make a compelling success of this long concerto. Despite some occasional moments of imbalance — it’s easy for an orchestra to drown out a cello — the collaboration also worked, with Handman and his players effectively backing their excellent soloist.

I’d say the WCO — or WSO — came through this difficult program with great success. …This concert has to be heard as a milestone in the ensemble’s progress.

music review by Leslie Gerber – Woodstock Times, Oct. 12, 2017

the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra‘s next concert is Saturday, January 6 at 7:30
(snow date: Sun., Jan. 7 at 3) at The Woodstock Playhouse.
“Transcendent Masterworks” program: Rossini – “L’Italiana in Aliergi” Overture, Rodrigo – “Concierto de Aranjuez” with Greg Dinger, guitar soloist, and Beethoven – Symphony No. 7