Soloist Adele Anthony, ASO give dazzling performances

Adele Anthony
Daily Telegram

By Arlene Bachanov

It’s certainly not every day that a classical-music audience in any town gets treated to the sound of a Stradivarius, especially at the hands of someone who clearly knows the instrument.

So it was a real treat for Saturday night’s Adrian Symphony Orchestra audience to get to hear one of those fabled violins — and an especially beautiful-sounding example, at that — played by guest artist Adele Anthony, in a performance of one of the repertoire’s great works, Mendelssohn’s E minor concerto.

A groundbreaking work at its 1845 premiere, this concerto quickly became a favorite of performers and audiences alike, and for good reason. It’s just about the perfect blend of lyricism and artistry, and Mendelssohn didn’t put a note in it that doesn’t belong there. Even the virtuosic passages, of which there are many, aren’t dazzling just for the sake of being so, but serve to advance the whole.

And the rendition of this piece put forth by Anthony and the ASO was a fine performance of this terrific concerto. Almost right from the start, the soloist is called upon to plunge pretty fearlessly into the work, and Anthony certainly did that, with both passion and precision. Her dazzling artistry and impeccable technique went hand in hand with a tremendous ability to capture the sheer beauty of the piece.

It also has to be said that her choice of violins, this particular Stradivarius, makes for a first-rate listening experience because there’s a really marvelous quality to the instrument. Not all Stradivarius sound the same, of course, and the one she plays is very fine.

Anthony’s spectacular playing was complemented by some very nice work by the Adrian Symphony and conductor John Thomas Dodson. Not only did they play the piece really well, but they also adjusted perfectly, and seemingly effortlessly, to whatever Anthony was doing, and it all meshed into a fine performance.

The Mendelssohn was, in typical fashion for a concerto, the second work on Saturday’s program. The evening opened with Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll.”

Plenty of wives would be happy to get flowers from their husband on their birthday. Wagner gave his wife, Cosima, this beautiful piece of music, and it is most certainly a love letter in music. In fact, the whole thing has this sense of intimacy to it that makes a listener feel like he or she is eavesdropping on a personal conversation.

Saturday’s audience got a real treat with the ASO’s performance, because it was a lovely rendering of this joyous, warm piece. For those who know Wagner but had never heard this particular composition, it had to have been a revelation to see that the generally bombastic Wagner could also write something like this. And for those who did know the work, it might well have been a revelation to hear Dodson’s vision of it.