a rubdown, a rinse, a ruckus – part I

just like the program a couple weeks ago that showcased Beethoven’s fourth, the beavs once again finds itself contemplating symphonic siblings. after 69 long years, the oso finally got around to playing ralph vaughan williams’ fifth symphony this weekend.  for the past year, it’s been this work’s lil’ bro hogging the spotlight in portland.  [you know, the one the band played in carnegie hall with shattering force according to new yorker critic alex ross.]  well, move over #4: #5 is here, is a dear, get used to it.  absolutely every movement begins and ends with gentle smoothness, and now this rodent just can’t help but refer to vaughan williams’ fifth as his “prune juice” symphony.  i’ve never heard anything like it.  uncle ralphie belies his british background in this musical watercolor by sounding impressionistically french ~ melodies and chords and even entire orchestral sections blend and bleed into one other with bittersweet beauty.  extra-special shoutouts to captain frank diliberto and his double-bass batallion, who provided an undercurrent of warmth throughout the performance and a solid foundation for the higher strings to sing and soar.  oh, and no one (and i mean no one) was singing and soaring more than guest concertmaster sarah kwak, whose brief but dreamy solo in the gorgeous third movement was a brilliant candle atop the sweetest icing atop a densely rich cake.  [yes, it was ms. kwak’s second try-out with the band in a concert that just so happened to be recorded… read into that what you will.]  ahhh… simply put, the rvw #5 was a 41-minute deep-tissue massage for the soul, certainly worth a 69-year wait.  bravo!  bravo!  bravo!

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