Reviews ...

Symphony finale charms, entertains

... Yoichi Udagawa is indeed "A Man for All Seasons!"

by Jackie Wattenberg

Several persons were trying to buy tickets for last Saturday night's Melrose Symphony Orchestra concert, but as happens often -- all sold out.

It was the final concert of the season, a Pops with two talented singers and a nicely varied program. But if conductor Yoichi Udagawa had only a smart dog to bark beats of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, it would still be a sell-out.

Such is the magnetism of the conductor who recreated our symphony orchestra about 15 years ago. His choice of guests always projects an appealing variety. Saturday night brought tenor Matthew Anderson and soprano Kristen Watson, both of whom have perfomed in both classical and more popular media.

They charmed the audience with a competitive "I Can Do Anything Better Than You" in which Watson won out, singing the highest note--at least high C, if not high Q!

Anderson possesses a tenor of warmth, firmness and unfaltering consistency--his tone rises and falls with unchanging and pleasing quality. His most serious song, "Granada," was performed with resounding drama and power. It was easy to imagine his recent performance in Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," and consider the excitement he could bring to an aria like"Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot," or any Puccini.

Kristen Watson is a lovely, lively young performer with a sparkling bright soprano facile in its full range from medium and fairly low to very high. She appears totally at ease in banter on stage and in her songs. She has appeared frequently with symphony orchestras, and it was apparent that her charming personality, beauty and voice light be well focused, would be welcomed in musicals.

As usual, the final concert was varied, light to heavy symphonic works. Curiously, the program began with a "Festive Overture" by Shostakovich that lacked his typical stunning harmonies and rhythmic flair, in its brassy bursts and beats more like our John Philip Sousa later in the program. It was, as always, great to hear music from Bernstein's "West Side Story," expressing its rhythm and soul.

The lovely flow of Sibelius' "ValseTriste," sad waltz, was a suitable choice for those in the full house attuned to more popular music. The medley from "The Sound of Music" was a lively presented choice for us all. Rather, a surprise was the final piece, the "Finale" from "The Pines of Rome" by Respighi, projecting its legato warmth.

Another successful evening at our Symphony's Pops. Not to forget near concert's end that Yoichi donned, without fanfare, his silly hat--the one with flaps that bob up and down with the music's rhythm!

Yoichi Udagawa is indeed "A Man for All Seasons!"

June 7, 2013

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