Sarasota Orchestra shines in Masterworks 2: Symphonic Carnival

Benjamin Beilman
Sarasota Observer

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it did. Last Saturday night as the outside temperature was dropping from cool to cold, inside the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall the Sarasota Orchestra, guest conductor Larry Rachleff and violinist Benjamin Beilman were raising it to a fever pitch with an evening of brilliant performances.

Rachleff has conducted the mostly student orchestra of the Sarasota Music Festival on several occasions, but this is the first time he has appeared with the Sarasota Orchestra on a Masterworks Series, and everyone was excited and impressed - musicians, conductor and audience. Conducting without a score, Rachleff brought lyricism, clarity, knowledge and sheer joy of beautiful music making to his festive program of orchestral showpieces.

Violinist Beilman may be young in years, but he plays with the technique, tone and musicality of a completely seasoned virtuoso. Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto was once thought to be unworthy of performance, since the first two movements are unashamedly romantic and decidedly nonvirtuosic. Beilman's lush sound brought forth all of the rhapsody and meditation of the first two movements, aided by some lovely playing by oboist Adam De Sorgo, and then burst forth in a dazzling show of technique and control in the nonstop frenzy of the final movement.

Read the rest of the review here