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SINFONIETTA REVIEW: A musical evening away from Ironman

July 30, 2017
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Sinfonietta on Sunday, July 23 demonstrated again that it can hold its own with just its regular personnel without any community choirs, Celtic dancers or celebrity guest artists in tight-fitting gowns required to put on a pleasant evening's concert.

Under the theme of "Classics as Song," director Ron Spigelman steered the 20-piece ensemble through the original versions of four works that have been adapted into popular songs, and one Broadway show tune that was arranged as a violin feature.

Beginning with Ravel's "Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte" ("Pavane for a Dead Princess"), the orchestra glided through this gentle and touching work from 1899 that Mildred Bailey adapted into a popular tune 40 years later titled "The Lamp Is Low."

Concertmaster and crowd favorite Daniel Szasz was featured on the next two numbers beginning with George Ernesco's lively and flashy "Romanian Rhapsody No. 1," an adaptation for which is known as "I Have a Coin, And I Want a Drink."

"He can do that after the concert," Spigelman reminded him.

With this being the third concert of the season's six-concert series, it was the first one not to be sold out. The reasons for this could vary. Local community choirs and marquis guest artists can prove to be effective drawing cards, and the day's Ironman triathlon may have prompted a number of area residents to avoid town with all the traffic issues that come with the event.

Although there were noticeably less people this week, their love for Szasz was undiminished as most gave him a standing ovation. The program then changed gears dramatically. Instead of a classical piece that was eventually adapted into a popular song, Szasz soloed on Gershwin's "Someone To Watch Over Me," a Broadway show tune adapted as a violin feature.

While the Ernesco piece demonstrated his technical skill, this one focused more so on his sense of passion. On two occasions the arrangement had him dueting with first Amanda Brin, the associate concertmaster seated behind where he was standing, and then with flutist Anne Harrow.

Anyone whose heart was not touched by the shear beauty of this piece, its sensitive interpretation, and the interaction between the soloist and the other musicians, chances are pretty good he can be found any day at the entrance to the Price Chopper with the rest of the vegetables.

The second half opened with Bach's "Suite No. 3 in D Major," a five-movement work that includes the often heard "Air for the G String" which has been adapted for such popular works as "Memory" from the musical "Cats," the British rock group Procol Harem's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," and R&B singer/rapper Sweetbox's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright."

New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini in a 2011 story headlined "The Greatest" offered his own list of the top 10 greatest composers of all time with J.S. Bach right at the top at No.1. The Sinfonietta's performance of his "Suite No. 3" did little to dispel that feeling.

The evening concluded with Alexander Borodin's lively orchestral show piece "Polovetzian Dances" that many may recognize as "Stranger in Paradise" recorded by everybody from Tony Bennett to British singer/songwriter Sarah Brightman Harem. Although "Stranger In Paradise" is known as a ballad, the entire work as performed by the Sinfonietta is full of lively moments that brought the concert to a rousing finish.

The season marches on to week four on Sunday, July 30 as guest pianist Joyce Yang performs Chopin and Liszt.



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