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The festival's concluding concert on 23 June 2007 reached an artistic crescendo with an effervescent reading of Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante in B flat Op 84 that featured the student orchestra and a substantial faculty contingent in the solo parts. This high spirited work reaches its peak in an Allegro con spirito that spells Papa Haydn at his witty best. Yet the serenity of the Andante seems to flow from some other worldly source. The excellent ensemble was led with verve and finesse by Dante Anzolini (who will make his début next season at New York's Metropolitan Opera conducting Phillip Glass' Sataygraha). The silvery sound of Buswell's violin, the rapid fire agility and patrician phrasing of cellist Ronald Leonard, the auburn glow of oboist Nancy Ambrose King's tone, and the remarkable aural compass of Miller's bassoon all contributed to a high spirited, stellar presentation of this wonderful classical soufflé. In many ways this performance was the defining moment of the festival.

Anzolini opened the program with a spacious reading of Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn. Fine wind playing commanded attention but the church acoustic was not flattering to the blending of orchestral timbres. Starr unfurled her most florid keyboard technique in a Chopinesque version of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor Op 54. Soloist, conductor and orchestra collaborated on a wonderfully satisfying account of this repertoire staple.

Levin's plans for the 2008 festival are even more ambitious. He plans commemorations of the 100th anniversaries of the birth of Elliot Carter and Olivier Messiaen and the death of Pablo de Sarasate; the 125th anniversaries of the birth of Edgar Varèse and Anton Webern and the death of Richard Wagner; and the 150th anniversaries of the birth of Giacomo Puccini and Eugene Ysaye plus important tributes to the Baroque giants Couperin and Rameau. Under the new director, the Sarasota Music Festival promises fascinating programming and great music making!

Copyright © 10 July 2007 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA




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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller