KING FM Symphony Wrap
By Melinda Bargreen
The fall concert season is off and running, with the first two Seattle Symphony programs showing the robust health of the orchestra as it starts the second year of Ludovic Morlot’s music directorship.
The “sleeper” concert of the year, however, just might be the upcoming trio of concerts featuring the orchestra’s principal cellist, the hard-to-spell but easy-on-the-ears Efe Baltacigil. He’s been missing in action for the first two SSO concerts – because he was on tour in Istanbul with the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. (Also on tour: his brother Fora Baltacigil, with whom Efe played a double concerto: an arrangement of Giovanni Bottesini’s “Gran Duo Concertante.”) Seattle Chamber Music Society audiences already heard the cellist in a brilliant performance of the Debussy Sonata this past July in the Summer Festival.
Baltacigil has such a distinguished background that local music lovers are already worrying how long we can keep him in the Seattle Symphony. Baltacigil has performed a Brahms Sextet with Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman and Jessica Thompson at Carnegie Hall, and has also participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project.
Here in Seattle, he will be heard in Tchaikovsky’s dazzling “Rococo Variations” with the Seattle Symphony under the baton of guest maestro Thomas Søndergård. The concerts, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, 8 p.m. Oct. 6, and 2 p.m. Oct. 7, are a “don’t miss” opportunity for cello fans.
The two September programs under the baton of music director Morlot have been highly entertaining affairs, with lots of splash and dash. The opening-night gala on Sept. 15 had the noted violinist Joshua Bell in an exquisitely detailed performance of Bernstein’s “Serenade” as its selling point, but the heart of the evening proved to be former Washington Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans’ moving narration of Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” – preceded by his injunction to the audience to listen carefully to Lincoln’s thought-provoking words.
The second program, the launch of the main subscription season on Sept. 20, had Respighi’s ultra-colorful “Pines of Rome” as its selling point in a wide-ranging lineup that opened with Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture” and went on to orchestral works of Martinu and Debussy. The orchestra sounds good; there are still some kinks to work out in terms of ensemble and intonation (the latter issue is most noticeable amongst the brass sections). But Morlot generates a palpable enthusiasm and energy from the players, a sign that augurs very well for the season to come.