This was a wonderful yet bittersweet event. I had prepared myself to hate the acoustics, as the auditorium is better suited to speeches than concerts, but was far more disappointed than I had anticipated, as the contrast between the quality of sound of the concert and the cd was dramatic. The dramatic crescendos were sucked into the cinderblock walls, while each and every attack could be heard clearly, exaggerating any imperfection in tonguing or intonation. If one didn’t listen carefully, it might have seemed that this was a well-rehearsed university orchestra.
But then there was Maestro Vanska, dipping and twirling around the podium, jabbing at the air with such ferocity one might wonder if he was in the process of keeling over with a heart attack. I don’t know how he gets such sound from the players with the erratic direction he seems to give, but the effect was pure magic. In the midst of this odd setting, in the midst of drama and tension probably unequaled in the history of this orchestra, they played their hearts out, and the drab venue came alive and almost vibrated with glorious sound.