Reviewed by Lee Shepherd
The Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra may be onto something good: a Sunday afternoon concert of upbeat Baroque music featuring Philharmonic musicians rather than imported guest artists. A program yesterday (Jan. 24) of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and music by Corelli, Geminiani and Bach played by a 25-member string orchestra (and harpsichord) drew a near-capacity crowd to The Forum in Binghamton.
Maestro Jose-Luis Novo called it a “Baroque feast” of mostly Italian music from the 1650s to 1750s. Concerti Grossi, he explained, featured important solo parts against a backdrop of other equally important parts. The Four Seasons usually features four solo violinists, but, said Novo, “we have so many fine violinists in the Philharmonic, we wanted everyone to experience how good they are.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Principal second violinist Amy Christian played “Spring” with fluidity and beautiful bow work. Assistant concertmaster Noemi Miloradovic played “Summer” with big, dramatic flair and great control and contrast during quiet, sensitive moments. Assistant principal second violinist Mitsuko Suzuki performed the many difficult doublestops and technically difficult passages in “Autumn” with great gusto and verve, and concertmaster Uli Speth, in “Winter,” displayed his usual complete confidence and mastery of his instrument.
Miladoradovic was a sight to behold as well, in her floor-length daffodil-colored gown. She was summer personified against the all-black garb of the other performers.
The equally important back-up musicians — principal cellist Hakan Tayga-Hromek, harpsichordist Tomoko Kanamaru and principal violist Dana Huyge — are also to be commended for their lightning-fast finger work and caring accompaniment to the soloists.
An added treat just before intermission was a performance of J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 2 in B minor, featuring principal flautist Karen Bogardus. She nearly took flight, especially in the last movement, dubbed “Badinerie” (the French word for banter).
I’m sure everyone who chose to spend the afternoon at The Forum listening to these gifted musicians rather than stay home watching football on TV were happier for having made the smart choice.
Maestro Novo quipped that Vivaldi might have added a fifth “Season”: the 2016 East Coast blizzard that missed us entirely, making everyone “so happy we live in Binghamton.”