Oklahoma City Philharmonic showcases 'fantastique' musical narrative

02.09.16
Robert Moody
The Oklahoman

Books may be the obvious choice for promoting the idea of storytelling, but music comes in a close second, something the Oklahoma City Philharmonic illustrated in dramatic fashion at its most recent classics concert. 
 
Guest conductor Robert Moody chose three works to showcase the concert's musical narrative: an overture not heard here in 35 years, a concerto receiving its Oklahoma City premiere and a repertory staple that brought the audience to its feet.

The orchestra's performance of Mozart's “Abduction From the Seraglio” was full of energy and fine dynamic contrasts, with strong accents that jumped out of the texture thanks to Moody's insistent beat.
 
Segar was a strong advocate for this unusual concerto, demonstrating her musical skills both in sprightly passages and a lovely, almost pastoral section. One also heard several orchestral statements that wouldn't have sounded out of place in a Hollywood film.
 
Moody treated the orchestra as a gigantic canvas, applying minute brush strokes to add flecks of color, and oversized gestures that brought forth huge bursts of sound. He also gave the work a spatial quality by placing musicians in different areas of the hall.
 
The opening “Reveries, Passions” created a fine sense of foreboding, while the “Ball” had an infectious lilt that made its waltz spring to life. Dan Schwartz's lovely English horn solo set a pastoral mood for the “Scene in the Fields,” a movement also noted for its insistent string sound.
 
Brilliant brass declamations lent an air of majesty to the “March to the Scaffolds,” one of many passages that illustrated Berlioz's remarkable gift of orchestration. But little in the repertoire can compete with the concluding “Dream of a Witches' Sabbath,” a chance for the orchestra to dazzle.
 
From squealing clarinets and a ponderous “Dies Irae” to the clangor of huge brass bells and the clacking of trumpet valves and drumsticks playing on the rim, all combined to make this a first-rate visceral treat. Hats off to Moody and the Philharmonic for a listening experience that was truly “fantastique.”
 
Read the rest of the review here