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Salisbury Symphony concert was triumphant

By W. Gerald Cochran, M.D.

Special to the Post

The Salisbury Symphony, under the direction of Maestro David Hagy, marked the beginning of its 49th season with a triumphal concert all about “Triumph.” Each of the three works presented, “Egmont” Overture and the Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15, by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), and Symphony No. 2, by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), ends on a triumphal note, although each with a different setting.

Beethoven’s Overture to “Egmont” was written as incidental music to Goethe’s play by the same name. The triumph results from the execution of Dutch warrior Count Egmont by the Spanish, which becomes a rallying point for the Dutch to overcome their oppressors. The music is filled with tension and turmoil until the exhilarating final triumph over oppression. The orchestra responded well to the changes in mood and the glory of the finale.

The Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, also by Beethoven, expresses triumph in another way. It is a youthful and festive work, with a majestic first movement, and lyrical and passionate middle movement, and an unpredictable and humorous final movement, in which the composer plays a trick, bringing the close to a very slow and quiet point, making you think that another soft section is coming, only to rush with great exuberance to the final closing.

The piano soloist was Dr. Renee McCachren, professor of music at Catawba College. She is well known to Salisbury audiences and has been the principal keyboardist for the Salisbury Symphony for many years. Her playing was thoughtful and nuanced, and exhibited virtuosic skill. Of particular note was the second movement, which she played with a deep tenderness and passion and great lyricism.

From the time of their composition, it was felt that Sibelius’ symphonies pointed in the direction of Beethoven, not necessarily in style, but in structure. Sibelius himself revered Beethoven. His second symphony reflects his love for his native Finland. The symphony builds from short fragments of melodies that ultimately are brought together in a grand, triumphant final movement, which makes one want to stand up and cheer at the end – exactly what happened at this concert.

This work is difficult and asks a lot of the players. Special mention should be made of the wind solos throughout the piece: Anna Lampidis Glantz, oboe; Elizabeth Campbell, bassoon; Carla Copeland-Burns, flute; and Eileen Young, clarinet. The string sections all glistened and soared, and the brass shone brightly. Timpani also play a vital role in this work, deftly executed by Peter Zlotnick, principal. The entire orchestra was exuberant and alive, and pulled out all the stops, for a triumphant finale.

The 49th season of Salisbury Symphony will continue with four more concerts, all of which promise to be as exciting as this one.

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