Following their successful Polish tour in March, the musicians were back at Kleinhans Music Hall for a BPO Classics concert featuring two young dynamos – conductor Ward Stare (age 35) and violinist Tessa Lark (age 29). From the opening downbeat of the first work, the rhythmically complex “3 Dances from the Bartered Bride” by Bohemian (Czech) composer Bedrich Smetana, the orchestra’s sound was unbelievably rich, deep, full bodied. Think of the best imported chocolate or the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, and that’s what they sounded like.
Was it the Polish tour? Did they ingest some Eastern European zeitgeist along with their pierogis? After all, it’s a shorter drive from Wroclaw, Poland to Smetana’s birthplace in the Czech Republic than from Buffalo to Syracuse.
Maybe it was just so great to be back home again? Or was the mid-season vacation the pause that refreshes?
Or was it Ward Stare the current Music Director of The Rochester Philharmonic who made his BPO debut as guest conductor? He’s also an opera conductor, and you don’t get invited to conduct opera unless you are at the top of your game. So, I don’t know, but whatever it was, the BPO sounded great.
Here are some other questions: Where the heck was the audience? It felt as if 500 people were missing. Were 100 snowbirds not yet back? 100 still on Easter vacation? 100 put off by the late season snow? 100 Falletta loyalists? 100 people who had never heard of either Ward Stare or Tessa Lark or the Dvorak Violin Concerto? I don’t know, but whatever it was, they missed a great one.
Seldom in life do we get a second chance, but if you weren’t there Friday morning for this “Dvorak’s Violin” concert you can be tonight, Saturday April 7th at 8:00 p.m. at Kleinhans.
Seldom in life do we get a second chance, but if you weren’t there Friday morning for this “Dvorak’s Violin” concert you can be tonight.
Ms. Lark may be young, but this Kentucky-born, New England Conservatory and Juilliard School educated phenom is an award magnet. In addition to many, many, many prizes, she has been given an Avery Fisher Career Grant and, more to the point of this concert, Ms. Lark plays the 1683 “ex-Gingold” Stradivari violin on generous loan from the Josef Gingold Fund for winning the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. And man, can she get around that fiddle.
She played, and will again tonight, the beautiful, melodic Violin Concerto by Bohemian (Czech) composer Antonin Dvorak. Not as well known as his “New World” Symphony or his Cello Concerto (14 previous performances by the BPO vs only 6 for the Violin Concerto) it’s pure Dvorak. Complex rhythms, rich harmonies, and, as Ms. Lark said in conversation great melodies.
And, for the second half of the bill, a symphony not played by the BPO since 1964, Schubert’s 4thSymphony.
The small crowd was enthusiastic and my only disappointment, and it was a HUGE disappointment, was that Ms. Lark’s curtain calls were not managed smoothly enough to elicit an encore from her, and the reason that’s such a shame is that she is a really accomplished Appalachian and Bluegrass fiddler and I’m sure that she would have delighted the audience no end. So when you go tonight, keep clapping until you get that encore.
When you go tonight, keep clapping until you get that encore.
Kleinhans Music Hall is located at “3 Symphony Circle” Buffalo, 14201 where Porter Avenue, Richmond Avenue, North Street and Wadsworth meet at a traffic circle. Visit www.bpo.org or call 716-885-5000. The concert starts at 8:00 p.m. but there’s almost always a “Musically Speaking” event an hour before if you want to learn more about the players or the music as well as free entertainment across the lobby in the Mary Seaton Room.