Westchester Chamber Symphony

December 11, 2010

A 35 piece orchestra composed entirely of strings.  I figure Barry Charles Hoffman hired every able-bodied cellist in the metropolitan area!

What used to be known as the Westchester Chamber Orchestra is now the Westchester Chamber Symphony.  What it means is that there are larger ensembles on stage for a much fuller sound.

The program presented a week ago Saturday was all Baroque, from J. S. Bach, the master of them all, to Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi.  Highlighted was Lawrence Dutton, the fine violist, in two concerti for that instrument, one by Telemann and one by Vivaldi.  Mr. Dutton’s instrument, a very fine viola, was worthy of his abilities. 

In the first piece, a Bach air, Maestro Hoffman conducted sans baton.  His fingers reminded one of the fine feathers of a bird’s wing and, in fact, his whole demeanor was one of flight.  My impression was of an eagle soaring above a valley between two high crests, catching the currents and joyously surveying his dominion below.  Wonderfully played and conducted.

The Telemann piece was just plain, ordinary, good music.  No brilliant moments as are frequently found in the works of Mozart and Beethoven, but a piece I would like to play me into the next world. From the somber, peaceful and transporting Largo to the brisk Presto whisking one away. 

Dutton, during the more sublime high notes, tips to his toes as if also to take fight above the earthly combo which so ably supports his music.

An extraordinary moment of counterpoint occurs near the end of the Vivaldi concerto where soloist and violin are exquisitely in tune, a butterfly and a swallow intertwined yet totally different.  Not so easy to bring off so majestic a duet, but the Westchester Chamber Symphony seems to attract the best.

The finale, Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto is sublime, of course, and the orchestra is up to it.

Next concert is in two months on February 12.  An all Mozart program including one of the most beautiful pieces in the classical repertoire:  Eine Kleine Nachtmusic.  If you like fine music and prefer not to sojourn to Manhattan, your entertainment bucks will be well spent right here at Iona College in New Rochelle.