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wcfsymphony → Three Bs

February 7, 2009, 7:30 pm → Great Hall, GBPAC, Cedar Falls

Beethoven – Violin Concerto with Wolfgang David
Bach, arr. Stokowski – Toccata & Fugue
Bartók – Suite, Miraculous Mandarin

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Violinist adds flair to symphony performance
by George F. Day
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
February 12, 2009

February’s Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra concert look place last weekend at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, featuring guest violinist Wolfgang David. Music director Jason Weinberger conducted this evening of very exciting music. The bill featured three ‘B’s’ of music, but not the usual trio. This time it was Bach, Beethoven and Bartók, with music from three quite different eras: 1705, 1806 and 1918.

Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin in D major was played by the soulful dynamo from Austria, David. Written during what was evidently one of the composer’s happier periods, it is gentle, pleasant, even occasionally humorous. David has a rich tone together with a technical flair that creates an inviting sound. That and his quiet, modest stage presence charmed the audience, and they gave him a thunderous standing ovation.

After the interval, we heard Bach’s Toccata and Fugue as arranged by Leopold Stokowski. This piece was first written for the organ, and that is how it is most often heard. It was especially fine in this arrangement for large orchestra. In fact the orchestra sounded massive and lush, as every instrumental section contributed to the sweep of the piece. The sound was dazzling, as it was also in The Miraculous Mandarin, which closed the program. The work, begun by Bartók in 1918, is in a modern style, and indeed it depicts the modern world, particularly the seamy side of it. The music, meant to accompany a baIlet-pantomine, dramatizes a tawdry little tale of three thugs, a prostitute, a young boy and a Mandarin. It is thoroughly urban, starting out with the sounds of modern-day street traffic. The music was cleverly assisted by brief titles flashed on a screen in a crude type font that reflected the wild music. The story line is rather sleazy and so is the music, but it is so frenzied, so violent in its portrayal of the dark side of modern city life that it becomes hypnotic and, in its way, beautiful. The Bartók, like the other works on the program, was performed to perfection, every instrument contributing to the overall, quite powerful, effect, and it was all admirably [and exhaustingly!] directed by Weinberger.

Note: All reviews are edited for length and spelling.