Charlottesville Symphony’s Triumphal Season Closer

Adam Carter, cello soloist

The final concert of the Charlottesville Symphony’s 2021-2022 season was also the first. The first concert that the full orchestra appeared onstage. COVID protocols severely limited the participation of the wind instruments throughout the season. The symphony responded with some imaginative programming that didn’t require a full orchestra.

It was good to have the ensemble reunited, and the players were glad of it. The concert had an energy to it that I hadn’t experienced before with this orchestra. In past concerts, the strings always took a few minutes to settle in. Not so here. They started strong and on point.
Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Act. 1 was a great opener. The orchestra luxuriated in Wagner’s over-heated harmonies. The players delivered them with a big, expansive sound.
Principal cellist Adam Carter took center stage for the Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major. The orchestra was pared down almost to a chamber ensemble. This gave the music a delicate transparency.
Carter performed with masterful enthusiasm. Runs were cleanly executed, and the double stops were forceful and full-sounding.
Smetana’s The Moldau was a perfect way to end the night (and the season). The music portrays the river as it moves past various scenes. The orchestra’s playing flowed with liquidity. When the main theme arrived, it was glorious. The lush, full-string sound brought home the power of the theme (and the river it represented).
Maestro Rous conducted the entire concert from memory. And he did so to great effect. During the cello concerto, Rous and Carter were in continual non-verbal communication. Something that wouldn’t have happened as much if Rous had needed to look at the score.
Best of all was the Moldau. At one point the music depicts the river passing a peasant wedding. The orchestra played Smetana’s folk dance, and Maestro Rous danced. He moved to the music, directing and shaping the music, with every part of his body.
Charlottesville audiences are over-generous with standing ovations. But at the conclusion of The Moldau — and of the season — that long, sustained ovation was well-deserved.
Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia; Benjamin Rous, Music Director
Adam Carter, cello
Saturday, April 23, 2022; Sunday, April 24, 2022
Richard Wagner: Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurmberg, Act 1
Franz Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major
Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau

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