Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers
After leading the Monterey Symphony through its 70th Season with significant and challenging works by, Copland, Granados, McDowell, Ives, Hindemith, Shostakovich, Strauss and Wagner, Maestro Max Bragado-Darman decided to end the 70th season on a lighter note. As he stated in a “Letter from the Maestro” in the printed program, “You, our audience, responded bravely and with enthusiasm, and a wider spectrum of the community is now attending our concerts. As a prize, you can sit back and enjoy the light-hearted gems that we will perform today — each one a show stopper.”
The evening’s soloist, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers thrilled the audience in brilliant performances of the Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28, by Camille Saint-Saëns and Maurice Ravel’s beloved Tzigane. With illustrious teachers like Joseph Gingold at Indiana University, Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard and a brilliant successful career as a touring artist, expectations ran high, and we were not to be disappointed. Even as her playing was dazzling and effortless in the most demanding passages, she also showed us she could melt our hearts in expressive soaring melodies. The audience responded warmly to her heartfelt playing and had an opportunity during intermission to meet her as she autographed copies of her CDs. Now that she has whetted our appetite, let’s hope she will return to play one of the standard concertos in the repertoire, or perhaps something more adventurous like the Barber Violin Concerto, a featured work on one of her CDs.
The remainder of the program was devoted to the popular works Scherzo Capriccioso in D-flat Major by Dvořák, Capriccio Italian by Tchaikovsky and Capriccio Espagnole by Rimsky-Korsakov. As promised by the Maestro, they were indeed show stoppers, and they demonstrated once again how fortunate we are to have such an excellent orchestra and such an excellent Conductor. The orchestra sounded fabulous as we heard magnificent solos by flutist Dawn Walker, oboist Bennie Cottone, Bassoonist Douglas Brown and a whole bunch of other woodwind and brass players. Karen Kirk Thielen had an important harp solo in Ravel’s Tisane and also in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnole. Percussionist Frank Wyant (and his minions), as always, played a significant role in the percussion section.
In the lobby we found announcements of the Monterey Symphony’s 2016-2017 season, which features the theme “Shakespeare in Music.” The new season will treat us to the delights of Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture and Incidental Music,” Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” Suite, Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture, “Three Movements from Romeo and Juliet” by Berlioz, Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Verdi’s “Othello, Arias of Desdemona” and in the last concert of the new season: Otto Nicolai’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” It looks like a great season.