Sunday, June 24 , 2018, 7:02 pm | A Few Clouds 68º


Soloist Puts the Sweet in Symphony’s Bittersweet Farewell

Young Augustin Hadelich shows fine form and a mature sensibility as the orchestra plays its final concert at the Arlington Theatre.

The opening of the newly restored Granada Theatre has wrought changes, including an emotional weekend with the Santa Barbara Symphony�s farewell to the storied Arlington Theatre.

Led by Conductor Nir Kabaretti, the symphony played its final concert in the Arlington: Ludwig van Beethoven�s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 with soloist Augustin Hadelich, Richard Strauss� Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24, and Maurice Ravel�s Bolero.

Hadelich, in his early 20s, shows a sure technique coupled with a mature sensibility. The audience roared at the end of Beethoven�s concerto (the only violin concerto he composed) and gave the soloist a standing ovation. He responded with a brief encore, a brilliant unaccompanied work by Nicolo Paganini.

After the intermission, the orchestra played Strauss� Death and Transfiguration (Tod und Verklarung, Op. 24), a work clearly influenced by Richard Wagner. As has often been observed, Wagner and Strauss both produced tremendously exciting works.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic recently performed at the Granada, playing music from Gotterdamerung (or Twilight of the Gods, as it is known familiarly). I find something a bit preposterous about all of Wagner�s gods and German mysticism. Strauss, at 26, managed to show more restraint in Death and Transfiguration.

The �plot,� by Strauss himself, is simple, a dying poet longing for transformation on Earth and attaining it only upon the transition brought by death. The orchestra was fully sensitive to this aching conflict, the strings especially vibrant with the assistance of guest concertmaster Serena McKinney.

The last item on the program was Ravel�s Bolero. In discussing the concert with my sister afterward, I muttered something about the �bloody Bolero.� She laughed and said, �Don�t be so critical. You listened to it all the time when you were a teenager.�

I suppose I might have listened to it a fair amount, when I was in my early teens. But it is another one of the wearier works that gets dragged out by the symphony all too frequently.

Nir Kabaretti has certainly settled in well as the new conductor. Gisele Ben-Dor is a happy memory, but she had a penchant for scheduling modern works by little-known Latin American composers. Between Ravel and the little-known Latinos, I�ll take the Latinos any day.

The symphony has the summer off and will return in the fall to play at the Granada. The dear Arlington will have other shows, and life will go on.

My hope for the fall is more innovative symphonic music and fewer clich�s.

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