I went last night to hear the Sacramento Philharmonic because on the program was the "Four Last Songs" of Richard Strauss, a piece I try to hear as often as possible.
I didn't think the concert started too well with the suite from Ben Hur by Miklos Rozsa. If you are going to program this kind of cheesy movie music, you are going to have to enter into the appropriate cheesy spirit of the thing. The timpanist Stanley Lunetta, a percussion institution in Sacramento since I was a mere child, was doing his best to sound like a drum for galley slaves, but the others just couldn't capture the idea. I don't think I thought about the importance of the music in this movie before. And probably I never will again. This piece was conducted by Ming Luke, the assistant conductor.
Michael Morgan, the music director of the Philharmonic, resumed his post for the Strauss. These pieces must sweep, and I am happy to say Morgan and his orchestra accomplished this. The style seemed perfect to me.
The soprano, Talise Trevigne, used a score, especially in "Im Abendrot," and stood in a position where she could not see the conductor. It has long been my theory that looking at the conductor should not be necessary. You and the music need only to become one. This theory was developed during years of performing while practically blind without my glasses. It is the music you sing with, not the conductor. There was not the tiniest hint of disconnection in Ms Trevigne's lovely performance. Her voice is very beautiful, and her style is just right. She soared at all the right moments.
So who is Talise Trevigne? She trained in New York and is currently making her way around second tier opera companies in the US and England. She will be singing Gilda in Rigoletto this year in Dublin and Knoxville. Maybe we will see her again.
I skipped the Elgar in the second half.