Reg Lenna Continues JCA Series

The newly-named Symphoria brought the rich harmonies of Brahms and the elegant phrasings of Haydn to the stage of the Reg Lenna Civic Center Thursday evening.

The concert was the fifth in the 2012-13 concert series of the Jamestown Concert Association. The orchestra has spent most of its history as the Syracuse Symphony, but since undergoing financial restructuring within the past year they now perform as Symphoria.

Neil Varon was on the podium. His program began and ended with Brahms. The opener was two of the composer’s famed Hungarian Dances – in this case #1 and #6. From their first note, the instrumentalists were disciplined and precise. The string sound of the orchestra was rich and full, and the color raised by the woodwinds and brass was measured, and fit perfectly into the strings’ framing of the music.

The second work was both new and old. Composed in the early 1760s, Franz Joseph Haydn’s ”Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major” was never performed in the composer’s life, and for centuries was considered lost. In 1961, it was discovered in an Eastern European museum, and has become a favorite of cellists.

Soloist in the concerto was Julian Schwarz, a young man in his very early twenties. Schwarz was not immaculate in his attacks and phrasings, but he was emotional and astonishingly expressive in a work from that period of history. His first movement cadenza was thrilling. He produced sounds from his cello which I have never heard before.

Although his performance ended in the first half of the concert, Schwarz acknowledged the extensive ovations which he had earned with an encore of solo Bach.

The program concluded with more music by Brahms. This time, it was the famed ”Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68,” with it’s pulsing heartbeat of tympani and its wide range of dynamics and emotions. A solo by concert master Peter Rovit was especially lovely.

Again, the audience responded with multiple ovations, and the conversation among departing listeners was enthusiastic and very positive.

The final remaining concert in the JCA series will take place May 10 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in Jamestown, when the Carpe Diem String Quartet will perform.