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Redlands Symphony Delivers the Wow Factor

03/15/10 • by Sherli Leonard • The Riverside Press-Enterprise

The Redlands Symphony Orchestra served up standard musical fare at the Saturday night concert with anything but standard ingredients. It was like serving mac and cheese with Cowgirl Creamery cheeses and organic wheat pasta from Italy.

The program of works by three great composers, Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, could have been too much of a good, sound-alike thing, except for the thoughtful order of music, with the joyful, ebullient and irrepressible Symphony No. 4 by Mendelssohn in the last position, leaving the audience refreshed and energized.

This familiar music doesn't just play itself: To be inspiring and thoroughly entertaining, it requires careful attention to detail, the kind of attention paid by conductor Jon Robertson, the individual soloists and the entire orchestra at this concert.

Robertson promised lightness, and the orchestra delivered with a brisk, clean tempo in Mozart's Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro," the energetic, lickety-split fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, and the third movement in Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4. Only the power of the timpani slightly muddied the musical waters. Hard to suppress that instrument in the lively Memorial Chapel.

Robertson promised warmth, and the orchestra performed, especially for Beethoven's Adagio movement, with wonderful depth created by the upper register instruments quietly and lightly floating above the deliberate pizzicato in the lower registers, the great patience of the sweet bassoon sound, and the elegant clarinet notes blooming out of the bassoon lines. In Mendelssohn, the stately unison octaves of bassoons and strings created a glowing tone in the third movement, warmed equally by the buttery and mellow sounds of the horns.

Robertson promised to "wow" the audience with beauty, excitement, and energy, and the orchestra came through.

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