Hot and cold

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  December 11, 2007

Oh yes, there was also a conductor — Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the 39-year-old Peruvian music director of the Fort Worth Symphony, who kept both Golijov pieces thoroughly coordinated (he’s something of a Golijov specialist) before ending the program with a lovely, elegant, unusually crisp and understated, though slightly cool, version of Dvorák’s Symphony No 8, which had its American premiere in 1892 at the very first BSO concert, led by the towering Arthur Nikisch. If Nikisch’s electrifying historic recordings are any indication, that performance was probably not cool at all.

The First Parish Church in Concord provided a hospitable environment on a snowy Sunday evening for the latest Sarasa concert. The guest performer, in a program called “Shades of Twilight,” was mezzo-soprano Krista River, who sang, with warmth and beauty of tone, Respighi’s “Il tramonto,” his lush setting for voice and string quartet of Shelley’s strangest narrative poem, “The Sunset”; Samuel Barber’s eloquent early setting of Matthew Arnold’s moonlit “Dover Beach”; and two great Handel arias about dawn, one an image of spiritual illumination (“As with rosy steps the dawn,” from Handel’s Christian oratorio Theodora), the other, at the end, the embodiment of a happy ending (“Dopo notte,” from Ariodante). The quartet — Heidi Braun-Hill and Rose Drucker (violins), Sarah Darling (viola), and Timothy Merton (cello) — played, also with warmth and tonal beauty, Mozart’s magisterial late Adagio and Fugue (K.546) and Haydn’s late Sunrise Quartet, capturing both Haydn’s playful pointillism and his weighty seriousness. The concert was dedicated to the late Craig Smith, the beloved artistic director of Emmanuel Music. A warm and appropriate acknowledgment of his widespread and indelible influence.

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