Minnesota Orchestra — Image via minnesotaorchestra.org

Mozart & Bruckner

Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra
Conducted by Stanisław Skrowaczewski

Thursday’s performance at The O’Shaughnessy auditorium in Saint Paul was the first time the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have played a full-scale concert since Feb. 1st. Like previous concerts put on by the musicians during their seven-month lockout, this one was played before a supportive audience that clapped and cheered at every opportunity. But with no end in sight nor any glimmer of good news for a while, the tone of the proceedings was somewhat darker, with the frustration of both the musicians and their audience very much evident.

Musically, though, things started out on a lighter note with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto performed by principal clarinetist Burt Hara backed by a chamber orchestra-sized contingent of the musicians. One of Mozart’s last and most popular works, the concerto received a lively and transparent performance. Hara shone throughout, but particularly in the final movement, in which he emphasized the dance-like qualities of the music while engaging in a friendly musical dialogue with his colleagues.

The second half of the concert featured Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, conducted (as was the concerto) by the orchestra’s former music director, Stanisław Skrowaczewski. Bruckner’s music — even in this so-called “Romantic” symphony — has a quality of relentlessness to it, and the musicians gave an uncompromising performance. In the two middle movements, in particular, each episode felt like a natural consequence of what came before it, despite Bruckner’s often stark transitions between different moods, colors, and volumes.

After the intermission, violist Sam Bergman spoke to the audience about the personal and artistic impact of the lockout on the musicians and the community, pointing out that three of the musicians on stage were playing their last concert as part of the orchestra and that their departure would leave the group with 73 members, less than three-quarters of a full contingent of 98. Without some kind of opening to an artistically viable way forward in the very near future, that number can be expected to dwindle even further. Thursday’s concert was yet another demonstration of what the community will be missing if the Minnesota Orchestra cannot be preserved as the world-class orchestra it has become.

Archival photo by Greg Helgeson

Published by

Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.