We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Monday, May 14, 2018


Richard Owen and the Adelphi Orchestra

It was a chance encounter with an oboist that led to our fortuitous awareness of the Adelphi Orchestra from across the Hudson. Learning of their program Bohemian Rhapsody we decided to attend and wallow in music of our favorite period, the second half of the 19th c. Happily, there were no nerve-wracking modern pieces to disturb our Romantic indulgence.

Not only did we get to hear some soulful solos from oboist Jacob Slattery, but we got a private inspection of all three oboes--the regular oboe, the mellow English horn, and the oboe d'amore that we've mostly heard in Early Music. We also heard a sensational young violinist tackle Saint Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso which was written for, and made famous by Pablo de Sarasate.

At the tender age of seventeen, an age when a budding opera singer would best be overlooked, Nathan Meltzer is already playing all over the world, studying with Itzhak Perlman, and worthy of the loan from Juilliard of an 1844 Joannes Pressenda violin! And oh, what he did with that instrument! The virtuoso sections of the work were performed with style and the lyrical segments were performed with substance--and gorgeous legato. This is an artist to watch, dear readers, even if you, like me, are mostly addicted to opera.

Under the firm baton of conductor Richard Owen, the remainder of the program was similarly outstanding. We do not ever have to worry about music lovers in New Jersey being deprived! We love that Maestro Owen actually talks to the audience and tells them interesting things about what is on the program.

The program opener was Dvorák's Carnival Overture. It began with a maelstrom of lively sound, almost frenetic. The central section was lovely and lyrical.

Baritone Andrew Cummings was on hand for Mahler's Rückert Lieder which was composed initially for voice and piano and later orchestrated, adding a great deal of rich detail. We know and love these songs which are filled with deep feelings. 

Since Mr. Cummings was "on the book", we did not feel the connection that we value in vocal music so we concentrated on the orchestration, especially the marvelous oboe solos. We did admire Mr. Cummings' use of dynamic variety and his word coloration but would have to hear him another time without the score to have an appreciation of his value as a singer of lieder.

Of the five songs, our favorite was "Blicke mir nicht in die lieder" in which the string section created the sound of busy bees, hard at work making honey, Rückert's metaphor for creation.

The major work on the program was Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony in the stirring key of E-minor. So many symphonies strike us as a collection of varied movements; what distinguishes this symphony is a sense of dramatic unity. The theme heard in the opening movement reappears in minimal disguises in the subsequent movements and by the end of the symphony we are hearing it transmogrified by being in a major key.

We were particularly taken with the Waltz movement that occupied our imagination with scenes of a ballroom with glamorous dancers swirling around, much as one sees at the ballet.  As a matter of fact, our love of classical music came out of that very art form, which is how we can say that Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov are responsible for our being here today!

(c) meche kroop

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