Conductor Emeritus Kirk Trevor’s return to the KSO podium after a few years absence has been very satisfying and inspiring. Since Sunday evening he has been shepherding the KSO through Prokofiev’s masterful Symphony No. 5, Sir Arnold Bax’s Overture to Adventure and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with verve and attention to detail.
Completing the family affair, his daughter Chloe has been playing brilliantly in the Beethoven. She has clearly come into her own as a soloistic force and it is unfair to her to hang the moniker of “Kirk Trevor’s daughter” after her name.
The Bax overture we are performing has my vote for the “sleeper of the year.” Composed during the KSO’s first season, one has to wonder upon hearing it why it is not performed more often and why the parts, which must have been printed in the 40's or 50's, were completely clean of markings. Maestro Trevor said of the work, “it has somehow slipped unfairly into obscurity, even by English standards.” But it is full of shimmering, thick brass writing and memorable tunes.
Prokofiev 5 is a work no one who enjoys the symphonist’s craft should miss, firmly entrenched in the canon of other great “Fifths:” Beethoven, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler. Prokofiev’s wit and soul are in fine fettle and unlike some of his other symphonies, there is no “language barrier” here. The first movement is sweeping and upbeat, the second movement Scherzo cooks along like a train that is on the verge of derailing (to paraphrase Kirk). The final two movements are showcases for Prokofiev’s mastery of symphonic colors.
Some of us were wondering where the clarinets were the other night at Maestro Trevor’s first rehearsal. There were holes in the texture, the fabric of the music and I’d almost forgotten why. We were even treated to the Maestro’s own dulcet tones, singing the missing clarinet part in the Prokofiev 5th. Gary Sperl, our principal clarinetist, was finishing up a tour of the People’s Republic of China with the UT Clarinet Choir! Their travels took them to Beijing, Xi-an and Chengdu in a tour that started March 10th and ended (gulp) Monday. It was good in many ways to hear jet-lagged Gary and bass clarinetist Ben Gessel at Tuesday’s rehearsals; not just their playing, but their mere presence, given the volatility of the world these days.
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