The National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a true delight right here in Washington, DC. Their strength as an ensemble allows them to master many genres of music. This particular program featured a diverse collection of pieces.
The evening started with Richard Wagner’s dramatic overture to ‘The Flying Dutchman.’ This piece is melancholy and stormy with triumphant emphasis on delicate detail. The bows of the stringed instruments flew quickly while the theme from the French horn soared through the concert hall. It was a grand way to start the evening.
The next part of the program consisted of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 featuring Emmanuel Tjeknavorian on violin. The three movements went from haunting, to pastoral, to militant. Tjeknavorian is a remarkable violinist with stunning dexterity and depth of emotion. His relationship with the orchestra was a beautiful thing to experience as they worked together.
The night ended with ‘Symphonie fantastique’ Op. 14a by Hector Berlioz. This lengthy piece includes five movements. In truly Berlioz fashion, there were moments of unbearable tension that continued to build until a beautiful moment of release. He was a fearless composer and explored the various relationships between instruments in the orchestra.
The first movement “Reveries and Passions” contrasted light and dark in a swirl until a beautiful final chord like a sunrise. “A Ball. Valse” was the second movement which consisted of two harps and an angelic and romantic sound. “Scene in the Country” was mournful and searching highlighting the timpani and clarinet. “March of the Scaffold” was as patriotic as any march one could hope for, pulling the listeners on through a military parade. The final movement “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath” was delicately spooky and dreamy. The percussion section, in particular, was showcased beautifully in this movement.
As always, the NSO guided their audience on a journey led by the music.
Running Time: 2 hours with 1 intermission.
The National Symphony Orchestra performs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets and more information click here.