Cristian Macelaru receives applause following his November 11, 2016 performance with the Milwaukee Symphony (Photo credit: Jonathan Kirn / MSO)
Review: Macelaru leads MSO in vivid program
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Elaine Schmidt
November 12, 2016
Romance and tragedy took center stage in Friday evening’s Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert as the orchestra, led by guest conductor Cristian Macelaru, gave a vivid performance of selections from Prokofiev’s Suites from “Romeo and Juliet.”
Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” Suites are built of excerpts from his 1935 score for a ballet adaptation of the famous story. The piece draws its significant power in part from the universal experiences of first love and tragic loss that are the heart of the story, and in part from dramatic, evocative melodies and orchestrations.
Macelaru and the orchestra filled the program’s second half, and the stage at the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall, with a stirring rendition of the piece that evoked images of the ballet, as well as images of the story that is so ingrained in our culture.
They brought emotional depth to the performance, moving from moments of grandeur, gravitas and unmistakably Russian flavor to sunny playfulness and searing drama.
Lovely, fluid wind solos, some raw trumpet and horn sounds, and full, soaring string section and solo passages were all part of this thrilling mix.
The program’s two halves, both filled with engrossing music, felt a bit like two separate concerts.
The Haydn and Mozart of the first half, played with a constant ear for the details of style and musical communication, was somewhat eclipsed once the audience was immersed the sonic world and the drama of the Prokofiev Suites.
Macelaru and a much smaller version of the Milwaukee Symphony than would fill the stage for the Prokofiev gave an engaging, cohesive performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 96, “The Miracle.”
This was a performance built of decisive musical gestures shared across the orchestra. From placement of accents and shapes of phrases to lengths of notes and dynamic shifts, this was a lovely everyone-on-the-same-page interpretation.
The performance included some crisp, period-appropriate horn and trumpet sounds, lovely oboe solos by Katherine Young Steele, along with some rather muddy flute sounds.
MSO concertmaster Frank Almond took the stage with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1. He gave a stylish, colorful performance of the piece, despite several moments of technical uncertainty.
For the entire review, click here.