Home / A&E / Classical Music / MSO Classical Season Concludes on High Note

MSO Classical Season Concludes on High Note

Classical Review

Jun. 10, 2010
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra classical season ended magnificently with the high-minded idealism of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. On Sunday afternoon, at the conclusion of this 95-minute profound statement of nature and love, I was slayed, limp and spent. It was a fitting finale to a season that began with Edo de Waart conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

Principal trombonist Megumi Kanda’s extended solo was not only the playing of a true artist, but expressed the dignity and power of her instrument. Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor is the only concert/oratorio singer I have heard who conjures memories of the great Maureen Forrester, a performance endowed with sophisticated warmth.

De Waart’s hallmark ability is to let the score fully and richly speak for itself. He is not an emotional conductor, yet in his best performances, such as this, emotion emerges for no other reason than because it is there in the music. I have written often about his impact: refinement of section sounds, more unified ensemble, clarity of textures, and the master’s touch in phrasing and architectural shape. The MSO is not yet all it can be. Honestly, that will take a few changes in players. But under de Waart it is well on the road to becoming remarkable among American orchestras.

Non-Mahler high points of de Waart’s conducting this season were an unforgettable Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, and a thrilling March performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 6. Beyond de Waart there were other MSO highlights: Yo-Yo Ma in the Schumann concerto and the duo encore when he switched cellos with Joseph Johnson; John Adams’ powerful Doctor Atomic Symphony led by Giancarlo Guerrero; and pianist Simon Trpceski in Saint-Sans Concerto No. 2, the standout soloist of the season.

Several retiring musicians were deservedly recognized on Sunday after decades of service: violinists Dorothy Diggs, Andrea Leung and Patricia Mumm-Lovely; trombonist Gary Greenhoe; percussionist Linda Raymond Siegel. It was beyond poignant to see the superb principal hornist William Barnewitz, who has Parkinson’s disease, retire from MSO. We will miss his glorious sound. Vaya con Dios.


Are you upset by the way the NFL and the team owners have treated Colin Kaepernick?

Getting poll results. Please wait...