Playing a program of magic-themed music, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra spun an enchanting web of lyrical and unified music last Saturday night, despite the less-than-magical acoustics of Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. Soloist Maria Bachmann, expressive on violin, was also the catalyst for some of the most interesting music the orchestra has played in a while.
Themed “Enchanted Symphony,” the concert tied together four mostly Russian works all dealing in some way with the mysterious or supernatural, and all used in film scores as well. Opening the show was Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” the Halloween-ish piece about a witches’ Sabbath. Inevitably calling up those famous images from the animated movie “Fantasia,” where the music describes a looming demon scooping up maniacal followers, the orchestra played with energy, featuring some beautifully simple clarinet and flute solos and lyrical violins at the quiet, redemptive end. The only thing marring the performance was the absolutely dead acoustics of the Pantages – this is the only stage in town big enough for the full orchestra and its audience, but with its trick of swallowing every resonance and note-decay it makes the Mussorgsky, so replete with dramatic chords and silences, about as magical as a door slam. Read more »