Symphony proves mettle in varied program

Sebastian Lang-Lessing
San Antonio Express

In a program of sharp contrasts, the San Antonio Symphony on Friday night displayed its talent for jumping from one musical world to another.
Consider the differences. The orchestra opened with Leonard Bernstein’s view of World War II New York in Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town” and then switched to biblical times in Ernest Bloch’s solemn “Schelomo: Rhapsodie hébraïque” before soaring into Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing poured every drop of drama out of the first movement of the Dvorák symphony. English horn player Jennifer Berg played the famous “Goin’ Home” solo in the second movement with supple grace. The quick-tempo finale couldn’t have been more electric.

The brass and wood winds dominate this music, but Lang-Lessing seemed to make a special effort to draw the strings more into the picture in each movement, shaping the sound with his left hand to enrich the atmosphere for this audience favorite.
Symphony principal cello Kenneth Freudigman delivered an inspired, disciplined and highly expressive performance of Bloch’s “Schelomo.”
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