How often do we get to hear the harp featured? The answer is, almost never. That is why Saturday evening’s Long Beach Symphony Classics Series concert was such a treat.
The multi-genre program was divided into a chamber-music first half, followed by a triumphant Beethoven symphony after intermission. Something for everybody!
To top things off, it is always a pleasure when Lucas Richman guest-conducts. Richman exudes competence, no matter what the music entails, and always addresses the audience with a welcoming warmth.
The program began with Mozart’s Symphony No. 32 in G major, a brief three-movement piece whose simplicity belies its dynamic sophistication. Paying homage to the composer’s preferential seating arrangement, the reduced complement of strings plus woodwinds, French horns and timpani placed second violins where the cellos would usually be, with violas and cellos occupying center stage. Mozart would have been quite pleased.
The symphony was at once animated and soulful, with French horns commanding the nine-minute master work. Tight strings and woodwinds led by Richman’s spirited baton made for a fine introduction to the concert.
Next up was the highly anticipated Harp Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major, opus 4, by George Frederic Handel, employing an even smaller complement of just strings, flutes and timpani. Soloist Marcia Dickstein’s virtuosity, on an instrument with the most heavenly tonal quality imaginable, made this the unequivocal highlight of the night.
A well restrained orchestral accompaniment sensitively paved the way for the rather delicate harp solo to be maximally discerned. Still, the Handel is joyful and bright, with Dickstein’s brilliant playing bringing ever more cheer and delight to the piece. What a triumph! And after just two curtain calls, Dickstein confidently sat down for a happy ragtime encore to please a most appreciative crowd.
Post-intermission delivered a tried and true Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, opus 55, by Beethoven. The popular “Eroica” symphony showcases the full range of the composer’s skill and dramatic breadth. The interweaving of recognizable melodies and exultant themes with passages exuding angst and torment entranced the audience as performed by the orchestra that night.
Long Beach is indeed lucky to have its wonderful Long Beach Symphony orchestra!
The Long Beach Symphony performs its Classics Series concerts at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., in Long Beach. Tickets for Classics Series concerts range from $20 to $90. For tickets and concert information, for both Classics and Pops! Series concerts, go to lbso.org .