Size doesn’t matter, in works both massive and delicate at Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Times

The Seattle Symphony has brought a little night music to Benaroya Hall in its current program, which offers two classics and two seldom-heard works relating to nocturnal themes. The Thursday-night audience heard an imaginative, well-played concert under the direction of music director Ludovic Morlot.

Two of the works — both overtures — are familiar to symphonic fans: Mendelssohn’s sparkling overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Tchaikovsky’s instantly recognizable “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.” The other two works, both products of the 20th century, are considerably less familiar, and were an ear-opening experience at Benaroya Hall. 

The only reason to program Britten’s song cycle “Nocturne” is the availability of a first-rate tenor, and the Symphony definitely had one in the evening’s soloist, Mark Padmore. The quintessential English tenor, Padmore has won acclaim for all kinds of repertoire, from early music and baroque works through more contemporary music. Padmore is an extraordinarily expressive singer — his wide range, vocal agility, tone quality and musicality make him an ideal choice for the Britten. 

Finally, when the crowds of performers left the stage after the Szymanowski, we heard Morlot conduct the piece that provided the title for this program: Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.” It felt like an afterthought after such a big-moment work, but the sheer beauty of Tchaikovsky’s well-worn score showed that in the world of symphonic music, size doesn’t really matter. 

Read the rest of the review here