REVIEW: GERMAN INSPIRATIONS

Greenville NewsFull Review

By Janie Caves McCauley: March 29, 2015

Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel, music director and conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, led his forces in an inspiring, musically rich program of works by great German composers Saturday night at the Peace Center Concert Hall.

The starter for this highly charged evening was the overture to Carl Maria von Weber’s rarely performed opera “Euryanthe,” a tale of testing and chivalry that in 1825 set German opera on a new, more theatrical path. The GSO’s performance of this work was colorful and dramatic, a very appealing concert-opener with a fanfare-like beginning, a ghostly largo for eight violins near the middle and a quick, sparkling ending.

The second piece on the program was Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber,” a work composed in 1943 in the United States, where Hindemith took refuge during the war, serving as an influential teacher of several young American composers studying at Yale University. Inspired by Weber’s piano music for four hands, Hindemith created a symphonic piece in four movements that is at once cerebral and delightful, with beautiful, glistening melodies in the strings, exotic tunes from the flutes and an explosive culmination in the concluding March.

After the intermission Tchivzhel programmed Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, a work full of beautiful melodies, permeated with a positive atmosphere.

The first movement introduces the pervasive three-note motif, heard first in the bass and then in the horns, that gives life to the entire composition. The lovely, romantic melodies of the work’s beginning section proved to be the highlight of the performance. Almost equally as moving was the playing by cellos and bassoons in the second movement, where Brahms’ themes spontaneously unfold and build upon one another.

The GSO’s performance of the third movement, an intermezzo scored as theme and variations, was as inventive in structure as the second was in melody. The spirited fourth-movement finale hearkened back to the opening figure. Appropriately, this section proved to be the most energetic, exuberant portion of the entire program.

The Peace Center program was repeated on Sunday afternoon.