Conductor candidate Daniel Meyer homes in on Russian favorites

Portland Press Herald

For the fastidious, it might have made sense for the Portland Symphony Orchestra to have ended its season with Robert Moody’s valedictory concerts, thereby drawing a neat line under his tenure before taking off for the summer. But whether by design or happenstance, the orchestra took a more interesting approach, scheduling one more classical program after Moody’s farewell. Instead of waiting until fall to begin the post-Moody era, it has moved decisively forward.
The main job at hand, of course, is selecting Moody’s successor. With one of the original four finalists having dropped out to take another post, three contenders remain, two of whom – Ken-David Masur and Eckart Preu – have already led the orchestra in both classical and pops programs. The third, Daniel Meyer, conducted a pops program last month and returned on Sunday afternoon to present his bona fides in the classical repertory, with an all-Russian program at Merrill Auditorium.

In the Glazunov Violin Concerto in A minor (Op. 82), Meyer proved a deferential accompanist, ceding the spotlight to Chee-Yun, a violinist with a rich, deep-hued tone and a good sense of how to make the showy solo line – including the lengthy cadenza, a fully packed survey of Romantic virtuoso moves – into poetry rather than mere display. But if Glazunov gave his most interesting material to the soloist, it’s not as if the orchestra is inconsequential, and Meyer kept its dialogues with the violin lively and on point. Chee-Yun (she goes by only her first name) offered an electrifying performance of Fritz Kreisler’s unaccompanied Recitative and Scherzo-Caprice (Op. 6) as an encore.
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