Each summer, the Symphony of the Americas, Broward County’s only resident orchestra, engages in a cultural exchange with a major foreign orchestra. This year, musicians from the Mission Chamber Orchestra of Rome made the long journey to perform across South Florida.
On Saturday, June 15, the musicians took the stage John Knox Village’s Village Center Auditorium to perform for an enthusiastic audience of nearly 300 residents and guests.
Maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese opened the program with C.P.E. Bach’s Sinfonia in B-flat Major. Carl Phillip Emmanuel, the fifth child of Johann Sebastian and second to survive to adulthood, proved to be an important transitional composer bridging the didactic, high Baroque masterpieces of his father with the lithe, joyous works of the Classical period, as epitomized by Mozart and Haydn. This three-movement Sinfonia followed the compositional forms of the latter period, yet was decidedly rooted in the pedantic sounds of Bach’s father, as the musicians tackled complex contrapuntal and ornamental passages with precision.
The clock then turned back as the orchestra performed Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 5. In the late 17th century, Corelli’s music was a staple in the chapels and palaces of Italy, including the Vatican, where the Mission Chamber Orchestra often performs. The concerto grosso as a musical form was composed to create a melodic dialogue between a small group of soloists (the concertino) and the full orchestra (the ripieno). Unfortunately, an electronic keyboard, simulating a harpsichord, overpowered the concertino, dismissing the intended effect.
Flutist Marilyn Maingart dazzled in her own transcription of Camille Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, originally composed for famed violinist Pablo Sarasate. Maingart premiered the piece during the American musicians’ trip to Rome a month ago. Maingart was a consummate artist, stretching every romantic phrase in the introduction and then attacking the virtuousic, arpeggiated passages in the rondo with gusto, despite the unforgiving, dry acoustics of the auditorium.
The conductor of the Mission Chamber Orchestra, Lorenzo Turchi-Floris, took to the stage to open the second half, performing his own composition, “Tarantango,” for piano and string orchestra. A curious hybrid of the traditional Italian tarantella and the fiery Argentinian tango, the work is colorful, utilizing broad compositional vocabulary to create musical imagery appropriate for a motion picture score.
The remainder of the program was much lighter, rounded out with C. Hubert Parry’s An English Suite for Orchestra, Alexander Borodin’s Nocturne from String Quartet #2, and Felix Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 10 in B-minor.
Maetro Brooks-Bruzzese described Parry as the “English Brahms,” but this suite was not heavy or even particularly moving, just simply cordial, even jolly in its celebration of British trifle. Borodin, best known for the lusch “Polovetsian Dances” (“Stranger in Paradise”), composes with a distinct tonal voice, immediately recognizable in this pleasant arrangement that arguably was more effective in its original setting. The program closed with Felix Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 10 in B-minor, a pleasant work that showcased how tight an ensemble the orchestra had become during the exchange.
Symphony of the Americas Summerfest continues July 24-29 with performances of this program in Key West, Miami, Weston, Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. For more information and tickets, go to SymphonyOfTheAmericas.org.