Richardson — The Richardson Symphony’s opening night performance was a compendium of two old favorites, the “Roman Carnival Overture” of Hector Berlioz and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, as well as a less-often heard symphony by Dvořák, the No. 7 in D Minor.
The audience at the lovely Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts was regrettably small for this performance, and the climate control may have been adjusted for a much larger crowd, since it was almost unbearably chilly.
The Berlioz was a fine opening to the season. Laura Irvin’s English horn solo was excellent, warm and fluid. Strings sounded crisp and clean in this lively piece. The Dvořák was somewhat less tidy, with a few pitch issues in all sections, but balanced by a beautiful second movement horn solo by Principal Horn Robert Fant. Dynamic contrasts were spot on, and the third movement Scherzo in particular was engagingly propulsive without sounding rushed. Clay Couturiaux’s conducting is understated but generally effective.
The highlight of Saturday’s performance was undoubtedly the Saint-Saëns violin concerto. His third concerto is far more frequently heard than the others, and with good reason. As performed by the mellifluously named Tessa Lark on violin, this concerto is a paragon of French Romanticism.
Although stage lighting was too dim to be able to see Lark’s expressions—she was visible largely in profile—her playing mostly compensated for the visual deficiency. Lark has an appealing, warm tone in lyrical passages, and although she missed a few shifts here and there, her technical mastery was more than sufficient for the fast-paced passages of the first and third movements.
The Richardson Symphony is proving itself to be a very fine regional orchestra, well worth supporting by Richardson and Garland residents, and even by those who live farther afield. Just be sure to bring a sweater.