Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Review of Concert from 1995

Concert Report
University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra
William Hudson, Conductor
Thursday, November 16, 1995

The symphony orchestra performed four pieces at this performance. They included, Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80, Matthew Halper’s Stalin’s Wake (1994), Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, “Unfinished,” and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Opus 58.

The orchestra consisted of a variety of instruments including those from the Chordophone family (violin, viola, violoncello, bass, piano, and harp), the Aerophone family (flute, oboe, english horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet and trombone), and the membranophone family (Tympani, and other percussion instruments). The members of the orchestra wore black, and sat according to their instrumentation. The audience was very attentive, and the music was played well. In my opinion the concert was a success.

Brahms’ piece was my favorite of the four performed. The majority of the music was smooth clear, and flowing. At times there was a strong and apparent beat to the music, while at other times it was too fluid-like to recognize an apparent beat. In either circumstance, there was a noticeable meter to the piece. The tempo was basically stable. It stayed the same throughout most of the performance. One of the most interesting aspects of the song to me was the melody. The melody was passed along throughout the piece to different instruments. I enjoyed this continuity through the music, with slight changes to maintain interest. The music was not dance-like, but seems to have been composed for the sole purpose of listening.

The second piece was one which I must admit, I did not particularly enjoy. The music was very programmatic, portraying many thoughts and emotions. I like to have the opportunity to develop my own thoughts and emotions from a piece of music. The piece was eerie, being played in a minor key with a chromatic harmony. To me it almost seemed irritating, an unpleasant sound. There was no apparent beat, which disturbed me not being able to tap my feet to the music. I did however notice a fairly consistent 4/4 meter by watching the conductor. The composer was successful in his attempt to achieve emotion in his piece. The music increases in tempo while the intensity rises, and decreases in tempo while the depression increases. I did not hear any apparent repeating themes in the piece, perhaps this is why I did not particularly enjoy it. There was no real type of continuity, and it lost most of my interest.

Overall, I enjoyed the entire performance. It was worth having one piece I did not enjoy, that enabled me to listen closely, and distinguish my preferences of the music with which I had not been familiar with prior to taking this class.