James Feddeck conducted the Phoenix Symphony in the concert we attended last night. The concert notes informed us that he studied oboe, piano, organ, and conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Thus, it is likely there is some connection with Michael Christie, the former musical director of the Phoenix Symphony. We particularly enjoyed the Ralph Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 5 in D Major that concluded the concert. Interestingly, in the first movement we hear a distinctive horn call (given that a horn soloist was featured in the Benjamin Britten work). We especially liked the violin solo that conveyed the serene but passionate third movement. The fourth movement has the cellos introduce a theme echoed by other instruments, and ends with the horn theme from the first movement. Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, Opus 31 featured Paul Appleby as tenor and Cassi Walck on horn. Without a doubt the horn is a difficult instrument to play, and not often included as a solo instrument, but some of the sounds in the Prologue seemed harsh and not quite right to me. I was glad that the concert notes included the words of the six poems of the Serenade. Several of the movements effectively intertwined the words with the horn. The Epilogue with the horn offstage was quite effective. The evenings performance began with The Walk to the Paradise Garden by Frederick Delius. I had selected this concert because it was advertised as “romantic” music. Since it so closely followed Valentine’s Day, I misinterpreted the word “romantic.” The Delius and Britten pieces give significant time to dying. So, this concert, like Phoenix weather this weekend, was dreary.

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