• Music Review: ‘War horses’ prove powerful
    By Jim Lowe
     | December 09,2013

    BURLINGTON – The terms “war horses” and “chestnuts” have taken on a negative connotation in the classical music world in recent years, but should they have?

    Anthony Princiotti led the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in excellent performances of three popular standards of the symphonic repertoire – often called “war horses” or “chestnuts” – Saturday at the Flynn Center, and it proved to be a richly satisfying and deeply moving experience.

    The major work was Tchaikovsky’s monumental Symphony No. 5 in e minor, Opus 64, one of the most popular and dramatic works in the symphonic repertoire. Princiotti, the VSO’s principal guest conductor, led the orchestra in a powerful performance that combined clarity, passion and depth.

    The high point was the slow movement, Andante cantabile. Principal hornist Shelagh Abate delivered the all-important solo line with a warm seamless lyricism and a natural expressiveness. Princiotti and the members of the VSO grew from a deeply touching tenderness to a magnificent grandeur. Although the third movement, Valse, could have been more dance-like, it sang. And the finale built to a glorious finish.

    Princiotti was most at home, though, in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Opus 70. Unlike the composer’s deep and dark works, this symphony is light, witty and fun, and that’s exactly how the VSO approached it. There were haunting moments too, but never heavy. Princiotti and the VSO delivered the work with charm and precision, all delightfully.

    Saturday’s program opened with Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute,” K. 620. Princiotti and the VSO’s performance, though it could have afforded a bit more warmth, was brilliant and elegant, successfully mixing the work’s charming fun and deep beauty.

    At Saturday’s concert, the VSO played brilliantly and Princiotti proved himself a masterful conductor. And the audience loved the “war horses.”

    Vermont Symphony Orchestra

    The Vermont Symphony Orchestra, for its next Masterworks Series concerts, will be joined by the VSO Chorus, soprano Jonita Lattimore and bass Kevin Deas, conducted by Robert De Cormier, in Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Brahms’ “A German Requiem,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Burlington’s Flynn Center, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at Rutland’s Paramount Theatre. For tickets or information, call (802) 864-5741, ext. 10, or go online to www.vso.org.

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