Patco, Center City to Camden is an easy ride. I could have driven over the Ben Franklin but riding the rails with a friend to hear the Symphony in C at Camden Rutgers Performing Arts is a trip I’ll venture again after Saturday night’s safe, well-lit 10 minute walk. Gordon Theatre has good acoustics, maestro Rossen Milanov’s proven his worth, and his Symphony excels. Hard to believe it’s completing its 59th season. A packed house Saturday night saluted the challenging program. Gyorgy Ligeti’s Violin Concerto. German artist Agustin Hadelich was the soloist. A scaled down orchestra supporting the solo violin, which has a haunting pairing with viola. Hadelich’s musicianship was at a fevered pitch. Milanov’s control was equal to it. Over five movements, ferocious intensity was conveyed — and inwardness. Strange music, strangely satisfying.
Symphony “From the New World,” Dvorak’s No. 9 in E Minor came after intermission: The canonic warhorse needed more care. Not the opening movement which was fine. Not the famous Largo which began stiffly but as things warmed up, the English horn solo went nicely. There was so much bark and bluster to the final movements – Scherzo and that fiery Allegro – all that asking for attention, well, they lost mine.
More flair and refinement to the Symphony in C’s performance of Roger Zare’s Green Flash which opened. The title is a scientific term for what happens in the sky as sunset ends. Zare, who won this year’s Young Composers Competition. has multiple awards and credentials. Some of his teachers are Michael Daughterty and Bright Sheng. The idiom is neo-romantic. The piece for large orchestra shimmers and flows. It blazes. The strings in high registers have a sheen. Zare knows his instruments and how to combine them. The packed house liked it. So did I.