Houston Symphony celebrates Italy in grand style

Jan 11, 2020 201

BY: Chris Gray

With the city in the grip of what passes for winter, the Houston Symphony treated Thursday’s audience to an Italian holiday. Both guest conductor Jader Bignamini and the evening’s featured soloist, violinist Augustin Hadelich, are Italian-born. The repertoire included Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, a technically flabbergasting monument to its eccentric composer; and Ottorino Respighi’s impressionistic companion pieces “Fountains of Rome” and “Pines of Rome.”

But first, Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” opened the evening with a succession of rapid-fire, instantly hummable melodies taken from the 1829 opera about the Swiss national hero: a plaintive chorale spotlighting principal cellist Brinton Averil Smith; a dervish of nervous violins, blaring trombones and booming bass drum; and a rustic cattle-driving tune for English horn known as a ranz des vache.

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SOURCE: https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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