HSO Opens New Season With Challenging, Powerful Program

10.02.15
Caroline Goulding
Hartford Courant

It was an inspired thought to open the Hartford Symphony Orchestra's 2015-16 Masterworks Series at the Bushnell with the "Shaker Loops" by American composer John Adams. The music, arranged by the composer for a seven-part string orchestra in 1983, is tricky to play and required special concentration from performers and audience alike, but it became a vibrant opening on Thursday, Oct. 1, for the concert and the new season.
Carolyn Kuan, conductor and music director of the Hartford Symphony, is experienced with this musical style and brought clarity to the work. The fast music unfolded with a sense of the elegant long arcs that shape longer harmonic motion, and the slow music maintained the kinetic intensity of the fast music, even when it was internalized.
 
Violinist Caroline Goulding joined the orchestra as soloist in the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor by Max Bruch to close the first half of the program. Although in her early 20s, Goulding is a seasoned performer with an impressive resume. Her approach to the Bruch concerto was blazing in many moments, especially in the finale. But the real centerpiece was the gorgeous sound and lovely quiet nuance in the adagio. It is not hard to see why Goulding is in demand as a soloist. The sheer intensity of sound that she produced was thrilling, and the pitch clarity of her double stops was remarkable. 
 
The third and fourth movements were also given impressive leadership by Kuan, who chose an interesting balance of rhythmic frictions in the scherzo, and helped shape the finale into its stunning mixture of simultaneously thrilling and heartbreaking emotion.
 
This was a creative and powerful musical start to the new season for the HSO.
 
Read the rest of the review here