Music Review: Nashville Symphony’s “Mozart & Strauss”

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Nashville Symphony’s SunTrust Classical Series: “Mozart & Strauss” (Jan. 10 – 12; All ages)
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
687-6400 • nashvillesymphony.org
Remaining showtimes: Fri – Sat 8 p.m.
Tickets: $28 – $115

A stupendous evening of wonderful music awaits your family as our Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony magnificently performs its current Classical Series installment, “Mozart & Strauss,” featuring guest soloist Jennifer Koh on violin.

Nashville Symphony Musical Director Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the orchestra with a dramatic, commanding presence throughout the entire evening. In fact, one of the kids in the audience I talked to after the show said she liked seeing how the conductor “made music come to life.”

The orchestra opens the evening with Richard Strauss’ Don Juan, Op. 20, which is the composer’s first major breakthrough (that was initially performed in 1889). The 18-minute energetic “tone poem” takes listeners through a diverse musical landscape that appropriately introduces the evening.

Koh joins the orchestra for a stunning delivery of Karol Szymanowski’s Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35, and she truly shines performing the piece’s signature sound of the solo violin. She plays with intense passion, and it’s interesting to note that it’s by chance that she even took up the violin. As a child, spaces for cello and piano were full, so she chose the violin in a Suzuki-method program. What’s more, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11.

After intermission, the Symphony revs back up with a lively performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K. 543, one of the composer’s final three works. The beauty of this piece is the vivid emotions it invokes as it shifts into different musical territories.

The night ends with Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28, and the composer based this work on a mischievous German folk hero. The orchestra deftly plays this piece from its soft fairytale-like opening to striking dramatic bars where horns, clarinets and drums boast a powerful array of musical impact.

Any outing to the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center to experience the Nashville Symphony is a perfect one for families, and “Mozart & Strauss” is no exception. It was incredible to see so many kids in the audience on opening night of a classical series. One of the great things about music, regardless of style or genre, is how it transcends the ages and can be powerfully inspirational.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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